Hundreds protested in Jaffa on Saturday over the firebomb attack that severely wounded a 12-year-old Arab boy in the area on Friday night.
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The boy was left in serious condition when a firebomb was thrown at his house. No suspects have been apprehended, and police say they are investigating whether the attack was committed by Jews or by Arabs who were mistaken about who lived in the house in the largely Arab neighborhood of Ajami. The boy is in a medical coma with burns on his upper body.
Tensions ran high in Jaffa on Saturday, with ads for the protest starting: "We won't be silent over the burning of our children. The Nakba of 1948 will not be repeated! The largest demonstration ever in Jaffa today."
Jaffa residents told Haaretz that they blamed police for failing to protect them, while also preventing locals from protecting their own homes. Residents also accused police of instigating violence and provoking locals. Police pepper sprayed one journalist and struck another in the face during clashes that erupted the night after the attack.
A resident who asked to remain anonymous told Haaretz that the protests in Jaffa had been peaceful before the firebomb attack and that police were failing to protect civilians. "Instead of protecting us, they told us to go inside the houses," he said. "I feel abandoned. The police aren't maintaining the peace. This has to stop. It cannot go on like this. I escorted two Jewish girls to the border of Bat Yam to protect them. Relations [between Jews and Arabs in Jaffa] are good and it's a shame that they're being destroyed."
Over the past few days, Jewish Israelis have traveled to Jaffa from other cities in order to attack Arabs. Earlier this week, masked Jews vandalized cars at a residential compound housing Arab families and tried to enter, while Arab residents burned cars in areas of Jaffa that house mostly Jews.
Jaffa residents have accused not only the police of abandoning them, but also the municipality and the mayor. Resident Abu Jamil told Haaretz that Mayor Ron Huldai had to take responsibility and intervene. "The police must be told to stop everything that is going on," he said. "Huldai, wake up."
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Another resident, Abed Satel, said he thought the situation in Jaffa "has reached the point of no return" and that residents just wanted to defend themselves. "Everyone is afraid and uncertain. It's not easy to be in Jaffa these days, not for Jews and not for Arabs."
On the night of the attack, violent riots resumed in several of Israel's mixed Arab-Jewish cities, with police arresting dozens, including a leader of the Islamic Movement.
Friday's attack came against the backdrop of Israel's current escalation with Gaza that has now killed 139 in Gaza and over 2,000 rockets fired at Israel, killing 10.