JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli border police and firemen were called to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan to quell a riot that began around 5:00 a.m. Thursday.
Arab youths threw Molotov cocktails and pelted police and fire fighters with stones as they arrived on the scene.
For about an hour and a half, the youth torched vehicles, motorcycles, trash containers and trees. They also set fire to a security guard’s post.
According to Mahmoud Karan, a resident who works at the neighborhood’s information center, four Jewish residents tried to unlock a gate to a mosque around 3:00 a.m. to take a shortcut to a nearby spring.
“One of the worshippers saw them and yelled to them to find out what they were doing and they fled,” the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Karan as having said.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CBN News the gate in question, which opens to a path leading to a spring, belongs to Jewish residents of Silwan, according to a 2008 court order.
An argument ensued as the Jewish residents opened the gate to walk down the path. The Arab youth began throwing rocks at them, injuring one 22 year old in the head.
The violence escalated as others joined in with Molotov cocktails and firebombs.
“It is clear to us that this involves a group of extremists,” a spokesman for the Jewish residents said. “We have been in contact with many of the residents who clearly didn’t want this to happen,” he said.
Tension among Jewish and Arab residents of Silwan has been mounting since March, when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Birkat revealed his vision for the neighborhood, which includes refurbishing squalid neighborhoods and adding a new tourist park for the area.
Click here to read "Silwan: The Untold Story."