Muhammed Muhuna, merchant in Issawiya 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The colored spray that the security forces use to break up protests in east
Jerusalem has a bitter taste, especially in cucumbers. That’s what Muhammad
Muhana has learned after owning Sally’s Vegetables on the main street in the
east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya for the past two years.
police spray the substance at demonstrators, to both disperse the rioters and to
identify them by means of a special ink, Muhana’s vegetable kiosk sometimes gets
caught in the crossfire.
When the political situation is quiet, Muhana’s
central location means business is booming. But as soon as the local kids show
up with rocks in their hands, Muhana closes the wire screening around his kiosk
and hopes it will end quickly.
He estimates that each riot – they usually
last around three hours – costs him approximately NIS 1,000. If the violence
gets really bad, he closes up shop, he hopes before the spray has reached his
“It’s just not worth it to clean,” he said. Tear gas leaves a
slightly acidic taste sometimes, but it’s not as bad as the spray, he
On Tuesday, Muhana shrugged his shoulders as kids as young as
five hurled stones at soldiers up the road and a number of Arab residents
accidentally walking down the street. Yes, Isawiya residents have been injured
by the kids throwing stones, but no one asked them to stop, he
“They don’t have anything to do, just throwing stones,” said
Muhammad Muhaisesen, Muhana’s uncle who sometimes helps out in the vegetable
Muhana is one of many business owners in east Jerusalem’s hot spots
who pay a personal price for political clashes. He has to budget for violent
demonstrations and tear gas-tinged peppers the same way he budgets for a
delivery of rotten tomatoes.
Tuesday’s demonstrations for “Nakba Day”
were quieter than expected, and Muhana decided to keep the shop open, though it
was empty for most of the morning.
Toward noon, Muhana received some good
Neighborhood youth trying to block the road by burning wooden
pallets were dispersed as police arrested a fifth suspect.
the suspect’s home swore and spit at the security personnel who took the
Muhana refused to reveal his political opinions, but he
was happy about one thing: With the youth dispersed, the daily potato delivery
would be able to get through.