22 Arabs arrested, buses and cars stoned, in Jerusalem riots

“Extremist Islamic elements are adding fuel to the fire, using a different excuse each time,” the chair of a Jerusalem-based NGO told World Israel News.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israeli police arrested 22 people in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, as hundreds of Arabs rioted in the area surrounding Damascus Gate, with some throwing stones at passing cars and buses.

Police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the crowds as a passing bus’s windows were shattered by stones, sending passengers scrambling to the floor of the bus for safety.

Magen David Adom reported that a 38-year-old man and 16-year-old boy were injured by stone throwers and transported to local hospitals.

The escalation comes on the heels of threats issued by Gaza-based terror group Hamas, which maintains close connections with several prominent Islamic figures in Jerusalem.

A recent Israeli court ruling which found that there were no grounds to block quiet Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount sparked widespread outrage in the Islamic world.

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The backlash triggered a higher court ruling invalidating the original decision, and Israeli government ministers made numerous public statements promising to maintain the status quo, in which Jews are prohibited from worshipping at the holiest site in Judaism.

Maor Tzemach, chair of NGO Your Jerusalem, told World Israel News that a number of key players, including influential Jerusalem-based, Hamas-affiliated Sheikh Akrama Sabri, continuously find justifications to encourage Arab violence in the city.

“Extremist Islamic elements are adding fuel to the fire in Jerusalem, using a different excuse each time,” Tzemach said to WIN.

“Once, it’s because of Jewish prayers, the next time because the Israeli flag was raised [on the Temple Mount] and the next time it’s justified as part of the struggle for the protection and security of Jerusalem’s [Arab] citizens.

“It’s important to remember that Arab violence and terrorism, for many centuries, has had one goal – to undermine Israeli sovereignty in the Land of Israel in general and in Jerusalem in particular. [But] the people of Israel and the people of Jerusalem are stronger than any antisemitic violence that erupts on the streets of Jerusalem.”

Tzemach said many mainstream Hebrew-language news outlets are wary of reporting about the reality on the ground, as they don’t want to paint the current government in an unflattering light.

“Unfortunately, the Israeli media isn’t challenging the new government,” he said, adding that he believes a hush-hush media reporting policy on Arab violence in Jerusalem has been adopted by much of the media to help the government save face.

Despite the media silence, Tzemach said Israeli public will eventually recognize that the “media is…not reporting the [truth] to the public in a credible, transparent way.”