Calm returns to Jaffa after weekend riots

Father of shooting victim proclaims son’s innocence.

TIRES AND garbage bins are set on fire by rioters in Jaffa over the weekend (photo credit: TWITTER)
TIRES AND garbage bins are set on fire by rioters in Jaffa over the weekend
(photo credit: TWITTER)
The streets of Jaffa were quiet Sunday after rioting, following the killing and funeral of a 22-year-old suspect accused of instigating a shootout with police a day earlier.
Shots were fired by a number of suspects at a port in the coastal city, in the early morning hours of Saturday leading to an immediate police response, followed by a chase when two of the suspects fled on mopeds. During the pursuit, police said shots were fired at officers on the well-traveled Yefet Street, resulting in returned fire that killed Mahdi al-Saadi, 22, and moderately wounded his unidentified accomplice.
During a Sunday morning interview with Army Radio, Saadi’s father, Jamal, claimed the police are orchestrating a cover up.
“The police chased my son, shot him and murdered him in cold blood,” he said, denying that his son was involved in the shooting. “I think they may have been in pursuit of another [suspect], noticed him and shot him. He wasn’t connected. Maybe they identified a moped of the same color, or maybe he had a similar body build. But my son was not involved in any shooting incident in Jaffa. He was not armed.”
He added: “He probably was just passing through on his moped. If they were in pursuit, why shoot him in the head. Why kill him? They could have shot his tire... We want to know which policeman murdered him… and that he will receive the punishment he deserves.”
Police have denied any wrongdoing, saying the officers responded to gunfire aimed at their vehicles during the pursuit of the suspects.
Following the shooting on Saturday, dozens of young, masked Arab rioters who claimed it was unjustified gathered where the gunfire took place and proceeded to light tires and dumpsters on fire while throwing rocks at police.
Police cordoned off large sections of the street, and at least three suspects were arrested as calm was restored.
Saturday evening saw hundreds of mourners peacefully gathered at Saadi’s funeral in Jaffa. As they walked from his home to the local mosque, and then to the city’s cemetery, police deployed to oversee the procession closed several streets to accommodate the march.
After the funeral, however, a group of Arab youths began rioting again on Yefet Street, setting vehicles and dumpsters on fire.
“There was a strong police presence in the area, and units immediately responded,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “Sections of the road were again cordoned off, and at least eight suspects were arrested, including six minors, after police contained the violence,” he said. No injuries were reported, he added.
The investigation into the shooting was turned over to the Justice Ministry’s Internal Affairs Department.
“This is standard procedure for investigations like this,” Rosenfeld said. “[The investigation] is no longer with the police.”