MA'ALEH ADUMIM, West Bank (May. 9)
The residents of this all-Jewish township of 13,500 are angry, frustrated and all too ready to take the law into their own hands.
They are sick of the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which marked the end of its 29th month on Wednesday.
The problem is that the intifada not only shows no signs of ending, it is getting worse.
According to police statistics, at least 161 vehicles owned by Ma’aleh Adumim residents were stoned last month. That was up from 100 vehicles in March.
The people of this township, located due east of Jerusalem, blame the Israeli security forces for inadequate protection.
“The army and the police failed to restore order, so we did,” said Mayor Amos Tertman.
On Monday night, a group of settlers headed for Eizariya, an Arab neighborhood on the road connecting Ma’aleh Adumim with Jerusalem.
They were stopped by police, who guessed their intentions. So they took a newly built bypass road and parked their cars at the first road junction leading to the Arab neighborhoods of A-Tur and Zuayem.
The two Arab homes closest to the road became their targets of vengeance. Windows in both were smashed.
The vigilantes entered the yard of Nabil Abu-Gharbiya, smashed the windows of a Volkswagen Beetle parked there, released the brakes and sent it rolling down the steep grade, where it smashed into a utility pole.
‘SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE’
“They came close to 11 p.m.,” recalled Abu-Gharbiya’s wife, Miyasser. “The children were awakened by the noise of windows shattering. The stones landed all around them,” she said.
She said only by the grace of God did her children escape injury. “What kind of people are these, attacking innocent children?” she asked.
They are, in fact, the kind of people who are fed up with the seemingly endless intifada. And they are determined to protect the free flow of Jewish traffic.
Three years ago, after a spate of stone-throwing attacks, 3,000 Jews raided Eizariya, smashing windows and damaging Arab cars. This week’s assault was modest by comparison.
According to Ya’acov Melamed, who owns a fast-food restaurant in Ma’aleh Adumim, the solution is to the Palestinian violence is to “break their bones.”
Melamed and other residents can easily reduce the risk of stoning attacks by using the new four-lane highway to Jerusalem that bypasses Arab villages. But many residents prefer the old road, because it gets them to downtown Jerusalem more quickly. And besides, they say, it is a matter of principle.
“I like to go on that road. I like the contact with the Arabs, to show them that we are not afraid of them,” Melamed said.
Tertman, referring to the Arab homes hit by his townspeople, said, “I oppose any damage caused to innocent people. But I understand our people, who are sick and tired of the situation.”
“Perhaps now, the authorities will understand that something needs to be done,” he said.