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Palestinian rioters in the Arab-Israeli town of Shuafat outside Jerusalem have completely destroyed a new light rail system built by Israel to improve travel in the city and connect it to other towns.
Arab rioters in Shuafat, the hometown of murdered Arab teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, launched bombs at three light rail stations over the July 4th holiday weekend and severed the train lines to ensure that the system is beyond repair, according to sources on the ground who toured the city.
Shuafat has been one of the main epicenters of violence and riots in Jerusalem since it was announced that Israeli citizens killed Khdeir in an apparent revenge attack for the recent kidnapping and murder by Hamas of three Jewish teenagers.
Rioters in the city were spotted pulling up pieces of the sidewalk near the rail station and using handheld saws to cut into the rail line, which was completed about three years ago.
Others spray painted violent messages against Israel, including one that read: “Death to Israel,” according to photographs.
The total destruction of the modern light rail—which was seen as a symbol of coexistence between Israeli and Arab areas of Jerusalem—is evidence of mounting frustration among Israeli Arabs, who have increasingly clashed with Israeli police as tensions reach a boiling point following the murders.
“These are Arab-Israelis in Jerusalem, and they destroyed a multi-million dollar project that connected them to the rest of the city,” said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). “This is apartheid, self imposed.”
Rioters targeted the light rail to send a message that they reject increased ties to Israel and the unification of East and West Jerusalem that the trolley represents, according to Schanzer.
“It’s a very straightforward message: We don’t want to be connected,” he said.
The town of Shuafat, located just miles from Jerusalem’s historic Old City, erupted last week after the 16-year-old Khdeir’s burned body was discovered. Israel has arrested six suspects in the murder, three of whom are reported to have admitted to the killing.
Protestors in Shuafat also draped Kheider’s home with the flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terror group that has urged area residents to start a popular uprising against Israel in recent days.
Israeli Arabs are literally burning the bridges that tied Jerusalem together and gave residents hope that peace in the city was possible, Schanzer said.
“The bridges are being burned,” he said. “The message is not lost on Israelis right now.”
Arabs within Israel are turning to violence this time around, as opposed to other recent outbreaks of violence perpetrated mainly by terrorists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
“There’s a concern that Palestinians living within Israel’s green line are the ones pushing back against coexistence the hardest,” Schanzer said.
The Jerusalem light rail began running in mid-2011 and quickly became a symbol of Israeli efforts to join the city together and facilitate travel among area towns across the East and West Jerusalem, which have historically had tensions.
The rail cost more than $1 billion to construct and Israeli officials have reportedly said that it could take months to rebuild the bombed out lines.
Access to some routes has been halted as a result of the violence, with some areas being completely cut off from the rest of Jerusalem, according to the Jewish Press.