Mayors of Jewish, Arab Towns Urge Residents to 'Maintain Calm'

Municipal leaders across Israel call on residents to exercise restraint, preserve coexistence amid escalating violence.

Gil Eliahu

The mayors of 14 Jewish and Arab towns in the Galilee on Monday called on Israelis to “maintain calm and normality” amid the violence that has beset the country since Israeli security forces’ discovery last week of the bodies of three Israeli teens kidnapped by Palestinian militants in the West Bank.

Jewish and Arab leaders came together to condemn violence in the south of the country and in the Jezreel and Jordan valleys as well.

Since the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah were found near Hebron last week, an Arab teen was kidnapped and burned alive, possibly by Jewish extremists, and there has been rioting in East Jerusalem and Arab towns.

The leaders of 11 Jewish and Bedouin towns in the south of the country urged residents on Monday to demonstrate restraint and abide by the law, while the Galilee mayors urged Israelis to “preserve the spirit of good neighborliness and coexistence in our communities.”

“The recent tragic events have grieved and upset us all,” read the statement from the leaders in the north. “We share in the sorrow of the families and call upon the security forces to do all in their power to capture the murderers and prevent the situation from deteriorating. Calm has been preserved in our region so far, and fortunately, we have seen no incidents of hatred or violence except for a few anomalous local incidents. Let us all mobilize to maintain calm and normality lest one more drop of blood be shed, God forbid.”

Jezreel Valley Regional Council head Eyal Betzer and Zarzir Mayor Atef Grifat, meanwhile, announced their opposition to extremism.

“During these days, when we have been experiencing instability, violence, extremism and hotheadedness throughout the country, we, the leaders of the region, feel it is important to stand at the forefront of unity against these extremist tendencies and convey to our residents, and the residents of the state, a message that is uniform, firm and determined:

“We say no to extremism and join hands in good neighborliness, tolerance and dialogue.

“We will not allow extremists to destroy years of respectful and democratic coexistence.”

Ten people who were arrested for rioting in the south overnight were brought to court for remand hearings on Monday, and three others were released after questioning.

A joint Jewish-Arab rally supporting neighborly relations in Wadi Ara yesterday. Photo by Gil Eliahu