Thousands of Israelis flocked to Haifa's beaches on Saturday, but rather than offering peace and quiet, the beaches exploded in conflict, as eight people were wounded in four different brawls along the northern city's coastline.
Saturday's brawls began in the morning on Shaket ('Quiet') Beach, when police received word of a stabbing victim, suffering from light injuries. The Russian-born 20-year-old from Kiryat Eliezer had been stabbed for an unknown reason, and was treated at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center and then released.
Hours later, during a soccer game on the Meridian Beach, a 16-year-old was beaten over the head with an iron bar, also for reasons still unknown to police. The youth was hospitalized in good condition, also at Rambam, and refused to issue an official complaint with police.
During another soccer game at the Carmel Beach, two players, residents of Tira and Haifa, were attacked by a number of youths who threw rocks at them. The two players, both in their twenties, were injured by the hail of stones. One of the victims suffered a broken jaw and was still being treated Saturday evening, while the second was treated and released shortly later. The two victims told police that they did not know the attackers' identities.
The last brawl of the day was also the largest, as 10 youths fought each other with knives and improvised weapons near the Carmel Beach, leaving four injured. The fight broke out on Saturday evening between two carfuls of youths on the road to the train station near the beach.
The two groups - one from Daliat al-Carmel and the second from Haifa - were allegedly fighting over traffic stoppages on the narrow road. One of the occupants of the car driven by Haifa residents broke a bottle over the head of a 21-year-old who was traveling in the vehicle driven by residents of Daliat al-Carmel. The victim, resident of Usfiya, was injured in the head and hospitalized in a serious condition in Rambam's trauma unit. Three Haifa residents were stabbed and hospitalized in good-to-moderate condition with stab wounds to their stomachs.
Haifa Police Chief Asst.-Cmdr. Nir Meriesh said that the level of violence on Saturday was extraordinary, but coincidental. Police, he said, maintain a presence on the city's kilometers of beaches, through both foot and vehicle patrols. He emphasized that all of the area beaches - from Atlit to the Haifa Port - were full to capacity as area residents fled the weekend's heat.
"The heat and the crowdedness brought about this situation. We hope that it will not be reflective of the rest of the summer, and that people will be able to enjoy the beaches in peace and quiet," said Meriesh.