Wave of protests sweeps Arab towns; Top cop: No repeat of October 2000 riots
Police will remain on high alert today to deal with a wave of disturbances among Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem. There is also concern that Palestinian terror groups might try to carry out attacks in protest against Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip.
Police Commissioner David Cohen held a series of consultations yesterday to assess the extent of violence in the area of Arab towns known as the Triangle, roughly bounded by Baka al-Garbiyeh, Taibeh and Tira, and in towns with mixed Arab-Jewish populations.
Cohen also sais that there was little chance that the disturbances would escalate to the level of the October 2000 riots, in which 13 Arabs were killed.
A senior police official said yesterday that the police have no intelligence about an expected escalation of violence among Israeli Arabs.
The police said they intend to allow demonstrators to "let off steam" and Israeli Arabs could demonstrate as long as they do not endanger life or property. The police are holding talks with Arab community leaders to try to to tone things down and to prevent escalation. The police said yesterday they were optimistic, and that there was no evidence that the Arab community in Israel was headed toward an "intifada" against the state.
Meanwhile, police are also preparing for the possibility that terror organizations might launch revenge attacks over the Gaza operation within Israel. Police sources said yesterday that so far there has been no specific warnings of any organization preparing an attack against Israeli targets.
"The best evidence of the lack of intelligence data is the fact that the IDF has not placed a closure order on any of the cities in the West Bank, which is what is done when there is significant information about a terror attack, a police source said yesterday. According to police assessments, terror groups will in the near future opt for "relatively simple" and "popular" forms of attack, such as shootings, stabbings and assault with a vehicle, which do not require complex organization. Police also said the terror organizations will have difficulty right now in establishing a system for bringing explosives or suicide bombers into Israel. "The Israeli operation surprised terror elements in the West Bank," a police officer said, adding, however, "It is clear to us that the calls from the heads of Hamas to renew suicide bombings will eventually be heeded by those who will try to put those calls into action."
In East Jerusalem public disturbances were renewed following the Gaza operation, and 38 Palestinians were arrested in East Jerusalem for throwing stones at police and vehicles. There were no injuries in the stone-throwing incidents. Three residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur on the Mount of Olives were caught red-handed by under-cover Border Police while throwing stones at a police vehicle.
Three Palestinian minors were also arrested for throwing stones at a tour bus in Wadi Joz in northern Jerusalem, breaking the bus windshield, and in Beit Safafa in southern Jerusalem and Beit Hanina north of the city, young demonstrators burned tires in protest over Gaza.
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