Abd Hakim Samara, the head of the Shari’a Court of Appeals and director of the Shari’a Courts on Wednesday night beseeched President Shimon Peres to use all the influence at his disposal to put an end to the violence that he claims is pervading the streets of Israel in general and those in Arab towns and villages in particular.

Samara was among the many guests who attended the annual iftar (break-fast) dinner that Peres hosts for Muslim kadis, imams, heads of local councils and diplomats.

Samara said that while there were many positive things he could say about life in Israel, he could not ignore the aspect of violence.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to live under the threat of the “civilian terror” that permeates the streets, he declared.

He appealed to both the Jewish and Arab leadership to do their utmost to eliminate the culture of violence which is seeping through society.

People no longer feel safe, he said. They are afraid of being attacked.

In the Arab sector there are young people under the age of 18 who have acquired arsenals of weapons, and more than eighty Arabs who have died over the past year have been victims of acts of violence, he said.

Samara urged spiritual leaders and school teachers to engage in the effort to curb violence by teaching non-violence to children from the earliest possible age.

“We are all under threat, and we must find a way to stop this violence and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.

He also thanked Peres for hosting the annual iftar dinner which made representatives of the various Arab communities feel more included and part of mainstream Israel.

Earlier in the evening Peres had made the point that the residence of the president is the home of all the citizens of Israel, “and as you are all citizens of Israel, I hope that you feel at home here.” Peres added that while visiting Arab villages around the country he had been very impressed by the emphasis that is being put on education and stated that the government is also aware of this and will make more funds available.

Referring specifically to Arabs who are citizens of Israel, Peres said: “I see you as a potential army for peace. Our Arab citizens can show our neighbors that co-existence is possible and that all people can enjoy equal rights.” He made it clear that while Israel’s Arabs are part of a progressive nation, “we have no intention of intruding on your religious values.”

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