Yeshiva students: Druse youth in Peki'in attacked us

Say "there is some kind of incident practically every week."

religious zionists 298.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
religious zionists 298.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
One day after three yeshiva students complained that they were attacked while visiting a religious site in Peki'in, one local Jewish resident complained Sunday that the Shabbat incident was merely the latest in a long train of provocations in the Galilee village. Police from the local Meona police station were still trying to uncover the identities of the six Druse youths whom the yeshiva students say harassed them and then attacked them as they attempted to visit the grave of Rabbi Yossi D'Peki'in. The three yeshiva students, who study in nearby Peki'in Hahadasha, said that the youths, who seemed to be in their twenties, first demanded that they leave the area, and then cursed and threw rocks in their direction. According to the students' account, at that point two decided to leave the scene while the third remained at the grave. He said that he was then physically attacked, suffering scratches to his face. After Shabbat ended, the three youths went to the police station and filed a complaint with police, who opened an investigation into the incident. One local Jewish resident who preferred not to be named for fear of retaliation said that Saturday's incident was merely the latest in a series of incidents targeting the Jewish presence in Peki'in. He said that while there had been occasional incidents before the riots in the town in October 2007, the situation had deteriorated since. "There is some kind of incident practically every week," he said. In recent weeks, a farmer's tent for receiving guests was burned, as was the vehicle of a former police officer and Druse resident of the town who received a citation for saving a policewoman during the riots. In addition, he said, there was at least one incident in which tourists' tires were slashed while they were visiting the town, once a popular tourist destination and symbol of coexistence in the Galilee. "There is a group of Druse youth in the village that is completely out of control," said the Peki'in resident. "They don't listen to the elders and they identify more with the Arabs than as Israelis," he added. But the resident also believes that this time - unlike in October - village elders now understand that it is in the interest of everybody in the town, Jews and Druse alike, to cooperate in putting a stop to the disturbing new phenomenon. "The Druse elders also understand that it hurts the town, and that without tourism everybody suffers. Peki'in is a beautiful, significant place that cannot be lost." Now, however, most of the Jewish families who had recently moved to the historical village have fled, with only two out of eight remaining.