By Michael Zeff
Residents from the Tekoa community in the Gush Etzion region south of Jerusalem, marched together on Monday evening, September 21 to the Beit Sahour junction in protest of the recent escalation of Palestinian attacks on Jewish civilians driving along the road.
The Israeli protesters, who marched with protection provided by IDF soldiers, carried signs with the names of all Israeli victims of Palestinian stone-throwing attacks as well as signs with the slogan “I don’t want to be next.”
On Sunday, a mother was driving with her baby from Tekoa to Jerusalem to get rock-proof windows for their car when a rain of rocks and boulders slammed into their car. At least a dozen Palestinians wearing masks threw rocks at the mother’s vehicle, and one landed near the baby. Miraculously, mother and infant escaped unharmed.
Yitzchak Newman, a Tekoa resident described the “harsh reality” that Jewish residents of the region now face to Tazpit.
“In general, the Tekoa community has always believed in and practiced coexistence with our Arab neighbors,” Newman said. “The recent events are not only putting our lives in danger, but are hurting us on a personal and emotional level. We feel our mutual trust has been hurt,” he told Tazpit.
In recent weeks, the Beit Sahour junction, which is located only a short distance from Jerusalem, has become a frequent flash point for violent riots by Palestinians. Creating makeshift roadblocks, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at passing Israeli vehicles as well as arson targeting Jewish drivers on their way to work or back home has become a weekly occurrence.
The most recent escalation came the day before the demonstration, when approximately 70 Palestinian men rioted in the Bet Sahour junction. The riot resulted in several vehicles being damaged, as well as an IDF soldier and two women from Tekoa sustaining light injuries as a result of the stone throwing.
Davidi Perl, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council stated that “the recent weeks were marked by a serious escalation in terrorist activity, not only in Jerusalem but in its suburbs as well.” Perl also called upon the Israeli leadership to convene an emergency cabinet meeting.
“It is only a miracle that none of the recent security events here ended in a grave disaster,” Perl concluded in his statement.