Jaffa ablaze: Explosive thrown at a municipal building, truck set on fire

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that “the police were aware that this could happen and did not prepare.”

A water truck in flames after an uneasy night in Jaffa  (photo credit: ALON HACHMON)
A water truck in flames after an uneasy night in Jaffa
(photo credit: ALON HACHMON)
Two arson events took place in the central city of Jaffa overnight Friday. In one case, an Eden water company truck was ignited, causing grave damage to cars parked nearby. Firefighting and rescue teams arrived at the scene and contacted police, which began investigating the circumstances of the incident.
Moreover, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Tel Aviv municipal building. During that incident, a window in the building was shattered and a plastic bottle filled with gas was tossed inside. The fire caused extensive damage to at least one of the offices in the building.
The circumstances of the incident are currently under review.
These two events occurred remarkably close together and preceded a series of violent events that occurred throughout the night, including setting several area trash cans on fire.
The riots began because of the city's plan to build the Center for the Homeless on a site that was an old Muslim cemetery.
The cemetery in question dates to the 18th century and was discovered in April 2018 as the city of Tel Aviv began digging to construct the foundation of the planned Center for the Homeless. Previously, a building dating to the Ottoman period stood on the same grounds, Ynet reported.
While the Muslim community claimed the cemetery is named El Asaf and is fighting to preserve it, a court decision from January ruled that in this case the project could continue.
The reasoning behind the approval was that the Muslim community, with the approval of then-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, removed the bodies and turned the grounds into a soccer field 80 years ago.
Additionally, the city intends to construct columns to ensure that human remains will maintain their dignity. The developer also stated that any human remains are worked around by hand to ensure they remain intact.
Meanwhile, Muslim activists erected fake tombstones to drive the point that this is a Muslim site of heritage and memory, Haaretz reported on Friday. Public Muslim prayers were held on the site as well.
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality responded to the incident: "The perpetrators are a small handful of people who do not represent most Jaffa residents and who have lost confidence in the municipality. We will continue to build a homeless shelter, according to court approval, and will not stop because of the damage done to municipal or other public property. Keep in mind, the site of the homeless shelter has not been a cemetery for more than 100 years and served as a soccer field for the city’s Muslim football club.”
Mayor Ron Huldai said that “the police were aware that this could happen and did not prepare.”
He said that Police were preparing forces in the city with the goal of responding quickly to any future escalations.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem issued a security warning, urging American citizens not to enter the area near Jaffa's clock tower.
These events are on top of other violent incidents that have occurred this week in recent days, with protests taking place over the killing of Iyad al-Hallak, a 32-year-old autistic man who was shot and killed in late May in the Old City of Jerusalem. During that riot, hundreds of residents of Jaffa and Jerusalem took to the streets to protest the fact that Police would not reveal the recording of the incident. Protestors waved PLO flags, set off fireworks and violated public order in the area. The protesters threw stones at police forces until order was eventually restored.
Translated by Maayan Hoffman.