In East Jerusalem, unrest, clashes, and large numbers of arrests continue to dominate the daily and nightly landscape, and Israeli journalists are increasingly referring to the situation as a Third Intifada, or a “Silent Intifada” (silent, apparently, because nobody is talking about it). The continued unrest was given additional fuel when the news (for more, see here) was publicized that an autopsy of
Muhammad Abd al-Majid Sunuqrut (conducted by a Palestinian coroner) found that he had been killed by a sponge-tipped bullet in the head, shot by police. Israeli authorities have long argued that Sunuqrut’s head injuries came from a fall, and not from a police bullet.
While the situation in East Jerusalem continues to draw greater media coverage, both inside and outside of Israel, Israeli political leaders from across the political spectrum continue to demonstrate remarkable indifference to the crisis that has engulfed a large part of what they consider, at least in their rhetoric, part of Israel’s eternal- united-never-again-to-be-divided capital. To the extent that Israeli politicians and security officials have acknowledged the crisis, it continues to be solely with respect to the security of Jewish residents of settlement neighborhoods and enclaves in East Jerusalem, as opposed to reaching out to calm the situation or acknowledge that it has any roots in Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem.
For a very telling example, see this report in Israel Hayom (owned by Sheldon Adelson and closely associated with Netanyahu), which includes the following: “Pisgat Zeev [an Israeli settlement of East Jerusalem] resident and Jerusalem City Councilwoman Yael Antebi said the police ‘contain the events’ rather than prevent them. ‘Much like children, the Palestinians constantly test their [the police's] boundaries,’ she said. ‘The [security] escalation is gradual but consistent. Pisgat Zeev has come under fire dozens of times over the past few years, and the only difference is that over the past few months, we've been dealing with direct gunfire.’”
Likewise, to the extent that Israeli police are taking action in East Jerusalem, it is not to calm the situation or to seek a solution, but to mete out punishment. Israeli police spokespersons appear to continue to be eager to show the Israeli-Jewish public how tough they are being, with regular announcements cataloguing the numbers of Palestinians arrested in East Jerusalem and the number indicted. For an example, see this recent report citing a police source bragging about a 48-hour crackdown (Sept. 14-16) that netted 26 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including 13 minors. That same report cited a police spokeswoman as saying that “
since early July to over 700, including 50 over the past two weeks alone.” In her statement, the spokeswoman reportedly assured Israelis, “The Jerusalem Police will continue its determined and uncompromising activity and arrest whoever has a hand in the rioting in the city and act to bring them to justice.”
For another example, see this report
(in the far right-wing Arutz Sheva media outlet), which notes: “Over 130 police officers have been injured in Arab rioting in Jerusalem, according to police spokesman Asi Aharoni - who marked Ramadan as the ‘turning point’ for the Holy City which saw a bloody descent into chaos in Arab neighborhoods two months ago.” The article goes on as follows: "’Ramadan this year was particularly tense,’" Aharoni stated, in an interview with Channel 2 News
. ‘[Tensions] culminated on the night of Al-Qadr’ -- a reference to a Muslim holiday focused on atonement, prayer and celebration that took place on July 26 this year. On that day, he said, ‘there were 42 simultaneous reports of separate incidents, which saw the participation of dozens, even hundreds of people.’ Four thousand (4,000) police officials were on patrol that night, he said, on high alert after rioting had begun to rise steadily since Ramadan began. By now, he said, ‘we have 600 arrests, 240 indictments filed, and it doesn't end there.’” Separately, Israeli Hebrew-language media
reported on 9/11 that there had been a total of 740 arrests and 246 indictments.
Notably, the Knesset did take one important actions – one that made clear what its concerns are in Jerusalem. Last week, th
e Knesset Finance Committee authorized the government to pay compensation for property damages (inside Israel only) resulting from “hate crimes.” The Jerusalem Post reported, “
This came to light in recent months following rioting in east Jerusalem, especially the millions of shekels of damage Arab rioters caused to the light rail, and far-right ‘price tag’ vandalism.” The timing of the decision, however, seems to indicate that the ruling is designed to address losses to Israeli Jews and Israeli government assets (like the light rail); price tag attacks against Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Palestinian citizens of Israel in other areas of the country have been on the rise for some time, with no action taken by the Knesset to allow for compensation of victims. And notably, the decision will not apply in the West Bank, where Price Tag attacks have exacted a heavy toll on Palestinians.