Jews in Jerusalem rampage against Arabs

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Jewish worshippers rampaged in the Old City last Friday, attacking Arab bystanders and damaging Arab property, following all-night prayers for the Shavuot holiday at the Western Wall.

"The rioting was unprovoked, and we still haven't figured out what motivated it," police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

The rioters broke windows and merchandise at stores just inside Damascus Gate. They also turned over vendors' stalls and pushed and shoved Arab bystanders. Many merchants quickly closed the shutters on their stores to avoid damage. Ben-Ruby said no injuries were reported.

The Jewish rioters also threw stones at Arab vehicles on Sultan Suleiman Street, outside the Damascus Gate. About 25 complaints were filed with police for damage caused by the rioting, representing a small number of the instances, Ben-Ruby said.

Police were caught by surprise by the unrest, which followed a quiet all-night study-and-prayer services at the Western Wall, attended by thousands. The unrest broke out about 8 a.m., as a crowd of worshippers leaving the Western Wall made its way through the Old City.

Dozens of border policemen and police were called to the scene, and clashed with the rioters. There were no arrests.

Police sources said the rioting was apparently provoked by a group of right-wing Jewish extremists in the crowd of worshipers, who began attacking Arab targets, with other worshipers following their lead.