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J'lem Arab rioting - a 'passing' event

Most of the city's 250,000 Arab residents have until now largely stayed away from Palestinian violence.

jerusalem riot 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
jerusalem riot 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Jerusalem Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said Tuesday that this week's Arab rioting in east Jerusalem in protest of the violence in the Gaza Strip was a "passing" phenomenon that would likely ebb. "We expected that there would be protests in east Jerusalem and on the outskirts of the city, and there were," Franco said at a police briefing. "This was a passing, specific event in solidarity with what happened in Gaza," he added, noting that there had been similar low-level disturbances in the city in the past when tensions escalated in the Gaza Strip. The remarks, which were made at a "year in review" press conference, came after two days of intermittent rioting in east Jerusalem by hundreds of Arab teens, and a day after two municipal workers were showered with stones as they drove through a major east Jerusalem thoroughfare, narrowly escaping serious injury. Franco said 10 Arabs had been arrested for the attack, including three who were caught on video pelting the car with rocks and stones. He added that the street had been closed to traffic due to protests at the time, and that the two municipal workers should not have been there. Franco said police already had the names of dozens of Arabs who took part in disturbances, and added that they would all be arrested in the coming days. The vast majority of the city's 250,000 Arab residents have until now largely stayed away from Palestinian violence, preferring instead to focus on their jobs and the social benefits Israel offers them as city residents, such as health care, unemployment, and social security. With additional reinforcements on the streets of east Jerusalem on Tuesday, there were no reports of major violence in the city. Indeed, in the commercial center of east Jerusalem, there was almost no sign Tuesday of the previous day's violence, save the increased police presence, which by midday was fast dwindling. Vendors sold their wares on streets packed tight with shoppers and several tourist groups heading to the Old City's Damascus Gate, standing out easily in their white caps. Yet, even as life returned to normal, there was a sense below the surface that all had not completely healed, with the next test expected to come at Friday Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount. "Today it is over," said a 29-year-old east Jerusalem resident who would only give his first name, Muhammad. "Stones and rocks never help at all - maybe weapons," he added. "But it is past us now."