Clashes, Protests in Mixed Jewish-Arab Cities Across Israel Resume for Sixth Day

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Residents of Jaffa protest, today.
Residents of Jaffa protest, today.Credit: AP Photo/Heidi Levine

Clashes resumed on Saturday in mixed Jewish-Arab cities for the sixth day, following several nights of violent attacks and as Palestinians marked Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands during the war of 1948.  Demonstrators also protested Israel's ongoing operation in Gaza, which has killed at least 145 people.

In the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, some 300 people demonstrated in the central square, with some masked protesters calling on Hamas to strike Tel Aviv. Police dispersed rioters using sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades and later arrested a group that was throwing stones and setting off fireworks at a separate location. Earlier in the day, confrontations broke out following the arrest of young people who participated in disturbances on Friday night, when residents clashed with police officers and set fires outside the city hall.

In Haifa, where 28 people were arrested in demonstrations on Thursday, a driver attempted to ram into police and fled, police said. Two minors, age 15 and 17, were meanwhile arrested for allegedly throwing stones at a municipal police office in the city of Rahat. Police also used stun grenades to disperse dozens of young people throwing stones and launching fireworks at police in Kalansua.

In the Arab city of Sakhnin, thousands demonstrated alongside members of every Arab political party in the country, waving Palestinian flags and condemning police for "giving its support to the radical right" in Lod and Jaffa. Dozens of protesters gathered in the city of Taibeh, burning tires and setting vehicles on fire. 

Police in Qalansawa also used stun grenades to disperse dozens of youth, who threw stones, set off fireworks and burned tyres.Two young men were injured from smoke inhalation. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of Jews and Arabs demonstrated in the heart of Tel Aviv against the Gaza operation and Jewish attacks on Arabs, which have been accompanied by Arab attacks on Jews as unrest has swept mixed-population cities.

About 300 people demonstrated in a park in Jaffa to protest the serious wounding Friday evening of a 12-year-old Arab boy in a firebomb attack on his family's home in the Ajami neighborhood. As of Saturday morning the boy was in an induced coma at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, outside Tel Aviv, in serious condition, with burns to his upper body. 

Demonstrators carried signs reading "Where is the sane Jewish voice?" One protester, Liza Koma, said: "I don't feel safe in my own city. I'm not supposed to go to sleep fearing that I'll be burned. We, the Arab community, will protect ourselves."

Police said Saturday that their main line of investigation was the possibility that the perpetrators were Arabs who mistook the house for one owned by Jews. They said they were not ruling out the possibility that the assailants were Jewish, but local groups disputed this. According to a senior police official, four other homes were targeted in the same area on Friday night – all owned by Jews. The police have not arrested any suspects in the case.

The boy's father, Sabri, told Haaretz Friday: "We have five children. My 12-year-old son and my 10-year-old daughter were wounded. My 5-year-old daughter suffers from psychological trauma. We were sitting in the living room, suddenly we saw fire coming through the window. I put the boy in the bathtub. At the last moment, after I partly extinguished the fire, the neighbors came to help."

Police meanwhile extended the nighttime curfew in Lod, where violence has taken place for several nights. On Saturday, a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded by police near a mosque in the city. According to the police, the boy was trying to throw a firebomb at a community center. He suffered gunshot wounds to his lower body and was admitted to a local hospital with minor injuries. Border police said they had found 15 Molotov cocktails on the roof of a mosque in the city. Hundreds of Jewish nonresidents of the city had been expected to come to Lod Friday evening and remain at least until the end of Shabbat, at sundown Saturday, in response to calls on social media citing the necessity of protecting the city's Jews in the wake of the recent riots. Border Police officers have arrested 43 people for suspected involvement in violence in Lod.

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