Stones Shatter Peace in Jewish Neighborhood
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Judy Segal had just cleared the breakfast table in her kitchen overlooking an Arab village when a hail of stones smashed through the living room window, confirming her worst fears over the past month.
″This is it,″ she remembers thinking at the time. ″It’s not going to be peaceful around here anymore.″
Ms. Segal, a Jewish mother of five who came to Israel 15 years ago from Palo Alto, Calif., is no stranger to an occasional rock thrown by an Arab assailant. But she said she never expected them to attack her spacious apartment in East Talpiot.
East Talpiot is a bedroom suburb of expensive apartments built on the no- man’s land that divided Jerusalem before Israel captured the Arab sector in the 1967 war. Just yards away lies Jabel Mukaber, the Arab village from where the stone-hrowers came.
″I guess this area is kind of a barometer of what’s going on in the country,″ Ms. Segal said, standing beside the remaining half of her window. ″If the violence has reached my living room, then it’s pretty bad.″
Minutes after Ms. Segal reported her house was being stoned Wednesday, about 10 border police rushed to the scene with tear gas and live ammunition.
Facing them just down the hill and behind a fence were about 50 angry youths, all of them hurling rocks, Ms. Segal said.
Neighbors gathered nervously near the border police, who dodged rocks but did not respond, Ms. Segal said. The scene turned more violent when two homemade firebombs exploded near the police.
″That’s when the troops started using tear gas, and that’s when I ran away,″ Ms. Segal said. ″I had never seen firebombs or tear gas before.″
The protest quickly dispersed, and police later arrested four Jabel Mukaber youths. Windows were smashed in five other houses, but no one was injured.
The incident was relatively mild. But the attention it attracted reflected Israeli fears that recent violence in the occupied lands has filtered into Jerusalem’s delicate Jewish-Arab relationship.
″We have not known these types of events in the past,″ said Police Minister Chaim Bar Lev. ″I’m not sure we’ll be able to return in the near future to the situation we were used to a month ago.″
In calmer times, relations between Jabel Mukabar residents and their Jewish neighbors are comfortable, Ms. Segal said.
″We aren’t best friends, but there has been contact,″ she said. ″Arab boys from the village even used to come and get my son, Dani, to play football with them, although that has stopped.″
Arabs still shop at the Jewish neighborhood supermarket and bring their children into the health clinic, where Arab doctors are on duty twice a week, Ms. Segal said.
But the past few weeks have brought changes, particularly for her 11-year- old son.
″There are two roads to my school, and one goes close to the (Arab) village,″ said Dani, who wears braces and the orthodox Jewish skullcap. ″I’m not going to be taking that road anymore.″
Dani said he will also feel less safe among Arab youths. ″I don’t hate them,″ he said, ″but I think they hate us.″
Ms. Segal said she left her doors unlocked at night until last month, when Jerusalem was hit by some of its worst rioting in 20 years.
For one day, youths rampaged through Arab east Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Rioters smashed every window and started fires in the restaurant down the street from the Segals.
But Ms. Segal still did not shutter her windows. ″Look at this beautiful view,″ she said. ″This is one of the main reasons we took this place.″
Ms. Segal said she and her husband, Benjamin, don’t plan to leave. But she said she will be more careful about letting her children wander outside freely, and will ″simply worry a lot more.″
For example, she said, an hour after Wednesday’s incident she heard noises outside the window and rushed to close the shutters.
″But when I looked out, it was just a shepherd leading his flock,″ Ms. Segal said. ″Like he has done every day for years.″