The Ma’ale HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) neighborhood yesterday looked like a war scene. Hannah Yagel, a resident of the neighborhood, spoke to Arutz Sheva of the difficult night that the residents went through.

The night events that included Molotov cocktails, stones and more, aimed towards the homes of the Jews, began with the firing of fireworks that turned out to be aimed not at the sky but at the direction of the houses. “Around twenty-eight, fireworks started going off. We are used to explosions and thought it was a wedding, but within a minute we realized that the fireworks were aimed at the neighborhood houses and the neighborhood gate together with Molotov cocktails.”

Hannah said: “We called the children to see beautiful fireworks, but then we started to see that the fireworks are not aimed at the sky but at the houses. You see a large palm tree at the entrance to the neighborhood starting to burn, there are two more fires and smoke begins to rise. Voices were getting closer and we realized that these were not shouts of joy, the houses were under attack.”

“At the same time, we heard a car belonging to the residents of the Yemenite village being attacked in the square near the neighborhood, and then we realized that we were under attack again.”

Hannah spoke about her phone call to the police, a call that was probably the first, due to the police’s confusion. “I called immediately when I realized these were no ordinary fireworks. The police began with the usual questions of ‘where are you precisely’ and other such time-wasting questions. When I realized there was a fire outside I asked the police if I should call firefighters. The police said they would. In the meantime, other residents called the police and fire department, and we waited like good civilians.”

“We expected them to arrive in 2-3 minutes. It actually took the police 15-20 minutes. The palm tree burned, a fire station was only a few minutes drive away, but it took them about half an hour to get there. Neighbors used a water hose, which at first seemed hopeless, but they managed to control the fire.”

Hannah continued: “At this time there was a constant firing of fireworks and Molotov cocktails, so residents decided to go down and defend themselves, and in the end this is what brings the police, because when we are attacked at best arrive after a quarter of an hour. When we began to defend ourselves the police arrived faster. Very brave residents took to the road to drive out the rioters. Even when the police forces arrived they did not do much, at least not at first. The neighborhood was besieged for over an hour and a half. Guests could not leave, Bnei Akiva students who were at the district branch could not return home until late because the police arrived and decided to block the road from both Arabs and Jews instead of securing traffic.”

“We had to involve the district commander. It was the only thing that made the police open the axis and allow us to drive in and out of the neighborhood,” Yagel says, noting that the police fired several stun grenades and later tear gas. “Nothing was done to drive away a crowd of Arabs. They stopped the traffic and did not allow a trip in the direction of the neighborhood or in the direction of the village further down the road.”

According to her, the feeling was that this was an organized and well-coordinated attack on the houses in the neighborhood. “Sometimes it happens that a boy or a child throws a stone or shoots a firework and runs away. That was not the case yesterday. There were masked men in an organized and very long attack. It would have seemed something pre-organized when the reason was not clear. There was no excuse we heard on the news.”

Does such an event cause concern even for the nights that follow? “I believe that everyone who lives Ma’ale HaZeitim and in the Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem also lives here out of a sense of mission beyond love for Jerusalem. Those who are afraid and can not deal with such events are naturally not here. There is always fear and vigilance but hopefully this was a once-off case. We are just residents of Jerusalem who bought or rented the houses nice houses. This is an established neighborhood with beautiful apartments and we hope that the police will take care to prevent such events in advance and will not leave us abandoned to our fate, if anyone thinks of repeating such an attack.”

Organized attack last night on Mount of Olives residents

Josh Toupos

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