Security at Beit Yehonatan ‘was already at maximum’

By ABE SELIG
March 2, 2010 05:14
3 minute read.

 
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A day after a security guard was wounded by gunfire near the Jewish-owned Beit Yehonatan building in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, a spokesman for the Ateret Cohanim organization, which built the seven-story structure, said there were no immediate plans to beef up security there and that its residents remain steadfast.

“Security is already at its maximum,” spokesman Daniel Luria told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “What’s disconcerting here is that this happened a few hundred meters from the municipality [building].”

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“Thank God, the authorities are doing all that they can,” he continued. “And eventually, the shooter will be caught.”

Luria also said that another passenger was inside the jeep when six gunshots – which police announced on Monday had been fired from a handgun – tore into the vehicle on Sunday night.

The passenger wasn’t hurt, although the driver sustained minor injuries from shrapnel and was taken to the capital’s Shaare Zedek Hospital for treatment. Police are still searching for the gunman.

Luria added that Beit Yehonatan has two vehicles used for transporting residents to and from the home. One is fully bulletproof, while the other, which was fired at on Sunday night, is not.

Jerusalem Police, Border Police officers and private security guards from the Modi’in Ezrachi company all provide Beit Yehonatan with security. Modi’in Ezrachi’s funding comes from the Housing and Construction Ministry’s budget.



According to Peace Now, government funding allocated to Modi’in Ezrachi, which also provides security for other Jewish-owned homes in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem and inside the Old City, has more than doubled over the last 10 years, and now exceeds NIS 54 million.

Additionally, a Peace Now spokeswoman told the Post on Monday that while no specific numbers were available regarding the cost of Beit Yehonatan’s security apparatus, it was likely more expensive than the other security provisions for the Jewish residents of east Jerusalem.

“Beit Yehonatan residents cannot leave without armed escort,” the spokeswoman said. “So right there, money is needed to pay for the vehicles, drivers and even gas.”

Luria said that in addition to the in-house guards and armed escorts, police units also engaged in preventative undercover operations in the area.

While violent incidents have occurred near the building in the past, Luria confirmed this was the first time gunshots had been fired at Jewish residents of the neighborhood.

“It’s definitely an escalation,” he said. “Although the people who moved into Beit Yehonatan in the first place knew that there wouldn’t be picnic grounds or that all of their neighbors would necessarily be friendly.”

“In the meantime, nothing has changed in the residents’ daily lives,” Luria continued. “Children are still playing on the roof. The residents know that they have to be careful, but at the same time, they’re not going to close up shop just because of terrorism.”

Nonetheless, Luria acknowledged that the shooting had likely given the building’s security guards a jolt.

“Things definitely changed after Succot,” Luria said, alluding to the firebomb attack on the home and the tense atmosphere in the area that accompanied wide-scale rioting that rocked east Jerusalem last October.

“But while security was beefed up then, [the security guards] probably thought they had a handle on things, until now. Still, I imagine it didn’t come as a huge shock given the the current atmosphere in Bethlehem, Hebron and now on the Temple Mount.

“At the end of the day,” Luria concluded, “the security forces know quite well that anything can happen, at any time.”

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