The Arab city of Nazareth and its Jewish neighbor, Nazareth Illit, share an unsavory problem - both of their mayors have received death threats recently.
The circumstances behind the threats against Ramiz Jaraizi, mayor of Nazareth, and Shimon Gefaso, mayor of Nazareth Illit, are unrelated.
In Nazareth, trouble began in late October, when a city resident received a parking ticket. The man, enraged, wasted no time in contacting members of his clan to organize a vengeful response, a police source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Hours after the ticket was given, several men arrived at the municipality building, where they began randomly assaulting employees and vandalizing equipment. The men were captured on CCTV, enabling police to identify them and make several arrests in recent days.
One day after the municipality attack, a grenade was thrown at the home of the parking attendant who gave out the ticket. Then, a day later, gunshots were fired at the home of Nazareth's deputy mayor, Ali Salam.
The police's Amakim Central Unit has been tasked with leading the investigation, and placed Jaraizi under round-the-clock armed guard.
He remained under guard on Wednesday, and did not immediately return phone calls.
Nine suspects were indicted on Wednesday for the municipality building attack.
"Most of them were caught on camera," the police source said. But police have yet to make an arrest over the grenade and gunshot incidents.
"Based purely on the evidence, we can't link these to the parking ticket feud. But we are taking the ticket story into account," the police source added.
The source conceded that illegal arms possession "was an issue" in the Arab Israeli community. "We deal with it in the most serious manner, using all of the resources available to us," he said.
Meanwhile, in next-door Nazareth Illit, Mayor Shimon Gafaso described how he had just gotten out of the shower on Wednesday morning when he spotted a police bomb squad outside his home.
"At 6:23 this morning, someone called the municipality hotline and said the cars of the mayor and deputy mayor were rigged with explosives," Gafaso told the Post. The hotline operator immediately contacted police. Officers inspected the mayor's car, and concluded that the threat was false.
"We have an excellent police force in Nazareth Illit, and I completely trust the police here," Gafaso said. "I do not fear for my life. I have been in far worse situations," he added.
"Usually, those who make threats do not blow people up, and those who blow people up do not make threats," he said. Gafaso has reported receiving telephone threats in the past.
"He may have a conflict with political rivals. In politics, anything is possible," a police source said.
"We believe this is a serious threat, and we are treating it seriously," the source added.
"I don't know who is behind this," Gafaso said. "My decisions will not be affected by this. As a mayor, I have had to take some very serious decisions, and they have not always been popular," he added.
The spectre of death threats against mayors has grown in recent years, as criminal outfits and politically motivated figures employ grenade attacks and other violent means to try and intimidate city heads.
"This is a problem. I know several mayors who have bodyguards, and it's not pleasant. But this is our job, and we must remain loyal to the public who put us here," Gafaso said.