(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Despite a heightened state of alert in anticipation of riots by Muslim residents
of east Jerusalem following afternoon prayers on Friday, cool heads generally
prevailed over the weekend.
In the most serious incident, police entered
the Temple Mount compound on Friday to stop worshipers from throwing rocks down
at the Western Wall Plaza.
One man was arrested on Saturday night after
Arabs threw rocks at police officers in the Abu Tur neighborhood.
rock-throwing incidents were recorded in Silwan and Isawiya on Friday evening,
but security forces were able to disperse the groups without
Border police arrested 16 east Jerusalem residents – nine in
Silwan and seven in A-Tur – for disturbing the peace on Thursday night, a day
after Arab residents vowed to avenge the death of a man killed by a Jewish
security guard in the Silwan neighborhood.
A one-year-old boy was
apparently an indirect victim of the weekend’s clashes; his parents claimed that
the copious amounts of tear gas used in Isawiya killed the baby, the Association
for Civil Rights in Israel told The Jerusalem Post
on Saturday night. Mahmoud
Abu Sa’ara suffered from severe asthma and his parents had taken him to a local clinic on
Wednesday afternoon, where the doctor told them to continue using his inhalator
every time he had trouble breathing, ACRI said. When his mother went to check on
him at 5 a.m. on Thursday, she found him unconscious.
The baby was
brought to Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, where he was pronounced
dead on arrival.
ACRI is demanding that the police open an investigation
into the boy’s death.
“They should reexamine the procedures,” said Ronit
Sela, ACRI spokeswoman. “We’re not saying don’t use tear gas. But we received
testimonies during the day that this tear gas was much harsher this time, that
it could have been a different type of tear gas. It’s not a different type of
tear gas, but the police are using a lot of it. And when it’s not carried away
by the wind, it hangs around.”
Tear gas entered into many of the houses
in the Isawiya neighborhood in greater quantities than usual, according to
testimony gathered by ACRI field workers during the weekend.
denied knowledge of Abu Sa’ara’s death, and defended their use of tear gas
during the riots in Isawiya and other neighborhoods.
“The amount of force
we use depends on the level of unruliness of the crowd and how much it takes to
calm them down. We don’t immediately use gas,” said Ch.-Supt. Shmulik Ben-Ruby,
the spokesman for the Jerusalem police district.
“If they were standing
and shouting, we wouldn’t be using gas. But if there are a few hundred that are
trying to go up to the French Hill neighborhood, then we’re going to use force.
And that’s what’s happened in the past few days,” he said.