Independence Day weekend violence in Israel

Sunday, April 29, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Millions of Israelis this past weekend joyously celebrated the 64th anniversary of their nation's miraculous rebirth by attending picnics and public festivals. Unfortunately for some, the festivities were marred by violence.

Tzipi Shukrun and her extended family tried to mark Independence Day with a picnic in the Valley of Ben Hinnom just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. But a gang of Arab youths from the nearby neighborhood of Abu Tor were determined to ruin the gathering.

Tzipi Shukrun told Israel's Maariv newspaper that the young male assailants attacked her family with iron bars, whips and knives, yelling at them to leave the area. Two of Cohen's brothers and a third unidentified family member were wounded and required hospitalization.

One of the wounded brothers, Yonatan Shukrun, recounted the incident for Israel's Ynet news portal. "Eight Arabs, aged 15 to 22, arrived just as we were preparing to leave. At some point they approached us and tried to reach the little kids – aged two, eight and 10," said Yonatan. "When we tried to stop them, they took out a whip and a knife and began hitting us. I was struck with a club. We managed to protect the women and children, but it wasn't easy."

Police later arrested four suspects in connection to the attack.

At around the same time, an 11-year-old Jewish boy was injured when Arab stone-throwers attacked his family at the Lion's Gate on the other side of the Old City.

Late Thursday night, again in Jerusalem's Old City, two Arab youths assaulted an Orthodox Jewish man.

In related news, thousands of Arabs participated in a march in northern Israel on Thursday to protest Israel's rebirth as a "catastrophe" for their own community.

Arab members of Israel's Knesset sought to fuel that fire. Arab lawmakers Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) took part in anti-Israel demonstrations on Independence Day, apparently oblivious to the fact that their position in Israeli society belies their claims of "Zionist apartheid and oppression."

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