Israel spent 2.5 million shekels to bus PA Arabs from checkpoints straight to the Old City during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. A terrorist took advantage of the service.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Israeli government paid bus companies 2.5 million shekels during Ramadan to transport Arabs from Judea and Samaria security checkpoints to the Temple Mount, Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon reported on Friday.
According to the report, one of the Muslims who took advantage of the free ride from the Qalandiya crossing point in northern Jerusalem was Yusuf Ahmed, who stabbed two Jews near the Damascus Gate of the Old City on May 31, the last Friday of Ramadan.
One of the victims, 47-year-old Gavriel Lavi, was seriously injured in the head and neck while walking to the Western Wall. Sixteen-year-old Yisrael Meir Nachumberg was stabbed in the back and moderately hurt as he was checking his bicycle.
The 19-year-old terrorist from the village of Abuwin was shot dead by police as he was chasing a third victim.
The terrorist succeeded in taking the subsidized Ramadan bus courtesy of Israel’s Transportation Ministry even though he had no work permit to enter Israel and hadn’t passed the requisite security checks, the paper reports.
The Ministry of Transportation said that it had paid for the bus rides during the “last days of Ramadan,” meaning that even after the attack, it continued the unsupervised transportation scheme for another three days, as Ramadan ended on the evening of June 3.
The ministry confirmed that it had hired several bus companies to take Muslim pilgrims from three security checkpoints – Qalandiya in the north, the Rachel crossing in the southern part of the city near Bethlehem, and the Zeitim crossing in the east.
Arabs on social media shared the news of the free Israeli trips and warned against taking the expensive taxis that awaited travelers on the other side of the crossings. The Transportation Ministry denied that the trips were free and said riders did have to pay a subsidized charge. Palestinian sources confirmed to the paper that each ride cost ₪ 12.
Makor Rishon reports that activists of “Students for the Temple Mount” have asked new Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich to be as generous to Jewish travelers to the Old City during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
Since the ministry budgeted ₪ 2.5 million “to benefit those who aren’t even Israeli citizens,” they wrote, they are now expecting “the establishment of a transportation system for the benefit of Jewish Israeli citizens to the Temple Mount… beginning with the upcoming Tisha B’Av fast [commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples] and the [High Holiday] festivals of Tishrei. ”
If the ministry does not do so, they said, it is a matter of discrimination “and we do not rule out appealing to the appropriate courts if we do not receive an appropriate response,” they wrote, according to the paper.