Palestinian unrest spreads to Israeli-Arab towns in fresh riots

Police on high alert; public security minister calls for calm after riots spread to Arab sector overnight between Friday and Saturday.

Palestinian taking a disk-saw to an electricity pole in Jerusalem, July 4, 2014.  (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Palestinian taking a disk-saw to an electricity pole in Jerusalem, July 4, 2014.
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
A Jewish driver was pulled out of his car outside the entrance to Kalansuwa on Saturday by men who then set it on fire, as rioting spread to Arab towns across Israel over the weekend.

The motorist fled on foot unharmed, said Sharon police, which patrols the towns in the Triangle region east of Kfar Saba.Police sent “dozens to hundreds” of reinforcements and Border Police officers to the Triangle area ahead of clashes that began anew in the afternoon, before they were broken up by police. Across the region but also in Wadi Ara and elsewhere, riots broke out on Friday and Saturday in response to the murder of east Jerusalem teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, in what may have been a revenge killing carried out by Jews after three Israeli teens were found murdered near Hebron last week.In Triangle communities Taibe and Tira, on both Friday night and Saturday afternoon, Arabs burned tires, blocked the town entrances, and threw rocks at police. On Saturday morning, Sharon police arrested three people for attacking officers, and quelled the disturbances using tear gas and stun grenades. Three more people were arrested in the protests in the Triangle later in the day.Following Friday night’s violence, police closed the Tira market, which is usually open on the Sabbath largely for Jewish visitors. They said that the local leadership in Tira, Taibe, and Kalansuwa had helped restore calm.Further north in the Wadi Ara region, fighting between broke out between police and rioters both on Friday night and on Saturday, including in Umm al-Fahm. Coastal District police arrested 12 people for throwing rocks at cars traveling on Route 65 through Wadi Ara. Police dispersed other protesters trying to reach the highway on Saturday.Riots also continued in the West Bank on Friday night, including outside the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, where hundreds of Arabs began gathering around 9 p.m., throwing firebombs and rocks and setting tires and trash bins on fire. Two men were arrested, including a resident of Eizariya (Bethany), and a man from Haifa who told police he was just visiting a relative in the West Bank for Ramadan.Within the Green Line, stone-throwers hit a police car as it passed by the village of Jizr e-Zarka, just north of Caesarea, on the Coastal Highway (Route 2).On Saturday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the Iron police station in Wadi Ara, where he issued a call for calm and said the force would show zero tolerance for further violence.“We have arrested dozens and we won’t allow people to block streets, throw firebombs, hijack cars, and hurt people and property and threaten lives,” Aharonovitch said.He said that for the most part leaders in the Arab sector are helping calm the situation.“The heads of the local authorities are cooperating and are trying to keep the calm, it’s just a small number of people who are taking the law into their own hands,” the minister said.“We won’t allow innocent civilians to be harmed. We are inside the State of Israel and we must protect the law and order,” he continued.Police “haven’t lost control” and “we are sending a clear message: Those who break the law must be questioned, arrested, and if need be, put in jail,” Aharonovitch said.Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said that officers would remain on high alert and that beefed-up patrols would continue, in particular in areas where there has been violence.President Shimon Peres called on Jewish and Arab leaders in Israel Saturday night to unite to prevent further unrest in the wake of the killing of Abu Khdeir.Peres asked Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghnaim to convey a message of reassurance to all Arab mayors in Israel, urging them to help ease tensions.“Your heart and my heart are in pain, it’s our duty to call for restraint from all residents,” the president told Ghnaim.“All the responsible leaders, Jews and Arabs alike, must come together as one in order to prevent a disaster and a loss of life. My heart aches for every death. Together, we can lower the flames and defend innocents.”Ghnaim, who also serve as the head of a council of Arab mayors, said he would try to calm the situation.