JERUSALEM (Nov. 18)
An atmosphere of tension and hatred pervaded the Old City Tuesday after a third night of anti-Arab violence and vandalism by Jews reacting to the fatal stabbing of yeshiva student Eliahu Ambi in the Moslem quarter Saturday.
The violence spread-to the run-down Shmuel Hanavi suburb of West Jerusalem where the victim had lived. Shots were fired in the air and passing vehicles were stoned. Seven people were arrested.
The usually bustling streets of the Old City were unnaturally quiet Tuesday. Local Arabs staged a strike to protest the attacks on Arab property by religious Jews. It was only partially effective. But many Arab shops were locked behind iron gates. Arab schools dismissed their classes early and the cheering youngsters rushing home seemed to be the only ones oblivious of the grim mood in their neighborhood.
There was fear in the air, too. Arab homes on Khaladiye Street, near the scene of the killing, were attacked by Jews during the night. One shop was set on fire. One resident, who said he was an American citizen but refused to identify himself further, told reporters he saw several yeshiva students throw a kerosine-soaked rag at his home but it failed to ignite.
On street corners, Arab shopkeepers and religious Jews eyed each other with palpable hatred and it was apparent that only the heavy police presence prevented further violence.
SHAMIR CONDEMNS THE VIOLENCE
Premier Yitzhak Shamir condemned the violent demonstrations that followed Amdi’s funeral Sunday. “The rioting harms security and our national interests,” Shamir said on a Monday radio interview. But Likud hardliner Ariel Sharon, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, called for harsher measures against terrorists in another radio interview. He was echoed by Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz of the religious Shash Party.
About 300 Orthodox Jews live in the Old City’s Moslem quarter, despite an official policy to keep Jews, Moslems, Christians and Armenians separated in their own neighborhoods. One Jewish resident denounced his Arab neighbors. “They are all collaborators,” he said. “They all saw the murder but wouldn’t help.”
A friend of Amdi, keeping a vigil at a small torchlight placed on the sidewalk where he was killed, read psalms. Other yeshiva students passed out copies of a poem by a Jewish woman in the quarter. “If Jewish blood spills and no one protests, our children will cry,” one verse said.
“Only if all the Arabs leave will there be an end to terrorism,” said Yori Harel, a long-time resident of the Moslem quarter. His friend, Mordechai Vardi, added, “Only by increasing our presence here can we cope with their murders.”
But an Arab, pointing at a group of yeshiva students gathered menacingly near his souvenir shop, said, “Talk about terrorism?” This is terrorism.”