|Damascus Gate, called Sha'ar Shechem in Hebrew [Image Source]|
Coming exactly seven weeks after the start of Passover, it's the day (two days if you happen to live outside Israel) we mark as the anniversary of receiving the Torah at Mt Sinai. The Jerusalem community in which we live, like Orthodox Jewish communities the world over, honours the occasion by having all-night learning sessions focusing on Jewish themes and, in our case, the presence of guest speakers.
As dawn approaches, there is a widespread practice to then walk to the Old City and to take part there in early morning prayers (Vatikin) in the Kotel plaza. as the sun starts to rise.
That's the background to some disturbing news.
Two as-yet-unidentified Jewish youths, making their way to the Kotel in the early hours of this morning (Sunday) in order to take part in that once-a-year mass gathering at dawn, were stabbed by an assailant from behind and suffered moderate stabbing injuries to the back and upper torso. The attack took place, according to Ynet's report, on Chabad Street (we have also seen reports that it was on Sultan Suleiman Street) near East Jerusalem's Sha'ar Shechem, Damascus Gate. That's the Old City entrance most accessible to pedestrians making their way in from Jerusalem's north side.
The two injured boys were given first aid at the scene by members of a Magen David Adom first-responder ambulance team and then rushed to Hadassah Medical Center for treatment. Thankfully, they are said to be in fair, stable condition.
The attacker was identified via security cameras installed in the area. Police found him and the knife inside his home, located within the walls of the Old City. Age 19, he is now under arrest.
Braided between the oldest sites in history is one of the most modern security systems on Earth – “Mabat 2000” – a complex network of visible surveillance cameras in Jerusalem’s Old City, established at the turn of the century. Sixteen staff members are assigned to different cameras in the Old City’s Observation and Intelligence Center, with special attention paid to the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Temple Mount... According to National Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, there is a reason the area has approximately one camera for every 125 permanent residents. “Over 40,000 people live in the 2-sq.km. area of the four different quarters,” he said during a tour of the facility Monday afternoon. “This doesn’t include the thousands of tourists each day.” ["The eyes of the Old City" | Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2013]Though news coverage outside Israel is thin, Jerusalem has been the site of a rising tide of violent, murderous attacks in recent months. Click here to review our past posts about recent such incidents. Most people we know are surprised to see just how much Arab-on-Jew violence, much of it lethal or intended to be, is happening - and how little impact this is having on news reports about events here,