Police Slam 'Reckless' Clashes With Israeli Arabs After Mosque Arson Attack

Hundreds of youths clash with police in Upper Galilee village overnight Monday, blocking roads and setting fire to buildings; former village council chief says incident 'only harms us.'

Northern District Police Commander Major-General Roni Atia, who visited the scene of Monday night's clashes in the village of Tuba-Zangariyya on Tuesday, has described the incident as reckless.

We will not allow this wildness, Atia said. We will hold those who break the law accountable.

price-tag, burned mosque
Gil Eliyahu

The incident, in which hundreds of youths clashed with police, happened in response to Sundays arson attack on a mosque, allegedly by Jewish extremists, in the Bedouin village in northern Israel.

The Bedouin protesters blocked roads with rocks, set fire to tires and threw stones at the police. Angry youths also torched the local council building, the local community center and a health clinic.

Protesters blocked roads and tried to set fire to a gas station. Guns were fired by some of the protesters. No one was injured during the clashes, although the village residents and police said that people could have been hurt by the gunfire.

Atia met with the former village council chief Hussein al-Heib, who has reportedly been trying to restore calm to the village.

A great deal of damage has been done, according to al-Heib. It only harms us, the former village council chief added.

He emphasized that some of the protestors are not residents of the village, and that they came there to cause trouble.

This morning the village was quiet, but the damage done overnight was visible.

Village resident Saud Heib said that he is ashamed of what happened.

I am meant to go to the bank in Rosh Pina today but I cannot show my face, he said. They have shamed the entire village.

He stressed that the only people who have been hurt by the incidents are the residents of the village themselves. Burning tires will not give us bread to eat. How will the smoke from a burning tire help us?

The clashes have also dishonored President Shimon Peres and the religious leaders who visited the village in solidarity on Monday, he added.