Police arrest leaders of rock-throwing gang in east J'lem

Police arrested five Arab residents of Silwan over the past month who are accused of being part of a local gang of youth that throws rocks at police officers.
The gang, called the Milad Ayyish Battalion, was named after a 17-year-old member of the gang who was killed from a bullet wound to the stomach during Nakba Day riots in Silwan in May. According to police, over the past year and a half, the gang threw rocks and firecrackers at patrols of police, border patrol, and the Beit Yehonatan House in dozens of separate incidents.
The stone throwing caused property damage to police jeeps and patrol cars as well as Beit Yehonatan, a controversial seven-story, heavily guarded building home to seven Jewish families. Police indicted the five males, three of whom are under the age of 18, in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday.
Police believe the gang started as a response to the death of Silwan resident Samr Sirkhan, 35, who was killed in September 2010 by a private security guard. They allegedly called themselves “Battalion of the Martydom of Samr Sirkhan,” but changed their name after Ayyish was killed in May 2011.
The gang members apparently wore clothes with the insignia of the Milad Ayyish Battalion to identify themselves. The five were indicted for conspiracy to commit a crime, attempted arson, attacking a police officer with the intent to seriously injure, disturbing the peace, and carrying and producing weapons.
In 2010, Silwan averaged four stone-throwing incidents per day.
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