MDA only enters east J'lem with police

Statement follows criticism of MDA, police for not intervening in clashes between clans in Silwan.

mda east jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
mda east jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service does not enter Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem without police authorization and escort, a spokesman said Sunday. The clarification came a day after Israeli ambulances did not enter the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan during a clan dispute which left one person dead and several others wounded. Two Magen David Adom ambulances waited for two hours on the outskirts of the neighborhood, located just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Dung Gate, during the incident, since they did not get police permission to enter, said MDA spokesman Danny Rotenberg. He noted that MDA ambulances routinely enter Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem under police escort, but that in this case the situation was simply too dangerous to enter and so the ambulances waited at a parking lot on the edge of the neighborhood. Israeli security officials said Sunday that the long-standing policy had been adopted after MDA ambulances summoned to Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem repeatedly came under stoning attacks. Three Border Police jeeps had entered the neighborhood after the first reports of a shooting were received on Saturday night, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. He said that police had separated the two sides in the brawl - which was spurred by a Friday evening scuffle between two clans in which a 10-year-old boy was slapped - but did not find any of the weapons used in the shooting. About three hours later, with police still in the neighborhood, the shooting resumed, police said. Additional undercover forces were called in, and three people were arrested in the shooting. No weapons were found during a second police search. The Jerusalem police spokesman insisted Sunday that the three Border Police jeeps were "reasonable force" in dealing with the violence. But local residents said that police were simply disinterested in the goings-on in the Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem since they were not terror-related. "Had the police acted as needed, starting on Friday evening, we would have not reached this tragic ending," said Fachri Abu-Diab, the head of Silwan's residential committee. "They had 24 hours to act," he said. "The writing was on the wall." Abu-Diab added that in contrast to MDA, Israeli officials routinely entered the neighborhood alone to issue demolition orders for illegally built homes. Police said that a reconciliation planned for Saturday night between the two clans had unexpectedly failed. The neighborhood in question is at the epicenter of a controversial frozen municipal plan to demolish scores of illegally built Arab homes. "When it comes to anything related to law enforcement, police practically don't exist in east Jerusalem," said Yakir Segev, a Jerusalem municipal councilman who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio. He added that this not only hurt the quality of Arab residents of east Jerusalem, but also "critically damages" Israeli sovereignty in the city. "If we will not enforce the law in east Jerusalem, then the PA, Fatah or even Hamas will," he said.