Israeli police fear continued Arab rioting
Israeli police were deployed Monday in a high state of alert throughout Arab communities in the Galilee and central Israel as sporadic rioting continued over the shooting death of an Arab Israeli by police on Friday night. Stones were hurled Monday morning at a bus in the Wadi Ara region, and police were expecting additional violence.
On Sunday, several masked Arab youths stopped a car in the town of Taybeh in central Israel, pulled out the Jewish driver and started beating him in what seemed to be an attempted lynch. The man managed to escape, lightly injured, with the help of local residents. The perpetrators then set the car on fire.
The man, was visiting friends in Taybeh when he was attacked. Local residents drove him to the entrance of the town and called the paramedics. He was taken to a nearby police station.
“I have worked with Arabs and had a good relationship with them. I did not expect this to happen to me,” he told the paramedics.
Policemen claim self-defense
Meanwhile, bodyguards were sent to protect the Israeli policemen involved in the Friday night shooting.
The Justice Ministry’s department that investigates police officers on Sunday launched a probe into the death of Khayr al-Din Hamdan, 22, in the village of Kafr Kana. The officers involved provided their version of events, video clips were collected from security cameras in the area and ballistics tests were conducted.
The four policemen, who were in the village to arrest a suspect in an unrelated criminal case, claimed they felt their lives were in danger when Hamda beat with a knife on the windows of their cruiser.
But widely viewed security camera footage raised doubts about their version, including their claim that they fired a warning shot in the air.
The department is also investigating why the police officers dragged him, wounded, to their patrol car instead of calling an ambulance. The officers said they feared that if they didn’t get away from the scene, they would be attacked by other residents.
The Walla website reported that the police officer who shot Hamdan claimed under questioning that he hadn’t aimed at Hamdan’s upper body, but at the hand holding the knife, in an effort to neutralize him.
“The bullet, unfortunately, hit the young man in the waist and caused severe bleeding from his artery, which ultimately led to his death,” he was quoted as saying.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said that when investigators submit their findings, a team will be set up to probe the officers’ conduct in the incident. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein also convened an emergency meeting Sunday and called for the investigation to be completed as quickly as possible.
Fears of violence spillover
The police and Shin Bet security agency had expressed concern during internal consultations that the Palestinian violence that has plagued Jerusalem in recent weeks would spill over to Israel’s Arab sector and to the West Bank. They also worry that various Islamic groups, headed by Hamas, are trying to ignite a wave of widespread popular violence, by playing on Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to upset the status quo regarding prayer on the Temple Mount, Haaretz reported..
The recent warnings by security officials also prompted President Reuven Rivlin to call a number of right-wing ministers and Knesset members, asking them to avoid visiting the Temple Mount in the near future.
Earlier on Sunday masked Arabs set tires on fire and threw stones on road 444 in central Israel. Police and special forces arrived at the scene and dispersed the rioters. A 15-year-old teenager from Taybeh was arrested. The road was closed for an hour.
In a different incident, a firebomb was thrown at the car of a mother of five from the Jewish settlement of El Matan in the West Bank. There were no reports of injuries.
Roughly 40 rioters, mostly teenagers, were arrested Sunday.