While in Jerusalem I stayed at the Mamilla Hotel, just above the open-air Mamilla Mall, near the Jaffa Gate to the Old City.
What struck me about it was how Arabs and Jews intermingled freely — it was a very mixed crowd and a seeming respite from my near miss with stone throwing in East Jerusalem.
Here’s a photo I took my first night in Jerusalem in late July:
It’s also where I met Carl in Jerusalem for drinks.
Back in 2011, when flash mobs were the rage, this dance took place (h/t Quite Normal):
But the coexistence was an illusion.
On September 1 Israeli authorities revealed the arrest of two East Jerusalem Arabs who were part of a Hamas cell in a plot to explode a bomb at the Mamilla Mall, where they worked, via Times of Israel:
Two men, aged 22 and 25, have confessed to planning a terror attack in Jerusalem at the Mamilla Mall, near the Old City, police sources revealed on Sunday [September 1].
The men, who worked as cleaning staff at the mall, planned to use their access to plant a bomb in a trash can at the popular shopping center during the imminent Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday season.
The men are residents of Shuafat and Ras al-Amoud, two East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and therefore have blue Israeli identity cards, allowing them access to Jerusalem without going through the security check that most West Bank Palestinians must undergo.
They were apprehended several weeks ago in a combined operation of the Israel Police, Border Police, IDF and the Shin Bet security agency.
The suspects were reportedly recruited by a Hamas cell operating out of Ramallah. In the course of the operation, the IDF uncovered the Ramallah cell’s bomb-making facility.
Even though Hamas did not succeed in killing civilians, it succeeded in tearing down once again the notion of peaceful coexistence, via JPost:
As dozens of armed soldiers conspicuously patrolled the normally tranquil upscale Mamilla Mall Sunday, merchants working in the area responded with shock and disappointment upon learning that two Arab workers planned a terrorist attack for Rosh Hashana.
“I’ve lived and worked in Jerusalem all my life, so I grew up in this reality,” said Asaf Shevach, owner of Shevach Judaica Art Silversmiths. “But this is the first time in Mamilla that something like this happened, and to hear it was planned by Arabs who worked here was very upsetting, because they are getting a salary and are citizens of Jerusalem.” …
Tal Amit, a saleswoman at Brands, echoed [the] disappointment that Arabs planned the attack on the normally tolerant mall.
“I’m already used to this in Israel, but Mamilla is meant to have Arabs and Jews together to work, shop and be comfortable, so it’s a little scary that this was planned here,” said Amit. “You usually don’t see security, but today they’re everywhere.”
Amit added that she believes the arrests prove that the notion that Arabs and Jews can work together peacefully is naïve.
“We all want Arabs and Jews to be able to work together, but it’s not going to happen; because the Arabs may want to be here, but they don’t feel like they can be together with us – even in Mamilla.”