Eleven Arrested After Clashes With Police at Wedding in Israeli Arab Village

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The scene on Sunday morning in Deir al-Assad
The scene on Sunday morning in Deir al-Assad Credit: Jack Khoury

Eleven have been arrested in connection to clashes between revelers and police at a wedding in the Israeli Arab village of Deir al-Assad on Saturday night, after officers responded to reports of gunfire at the scene, leaving one police officer and one civilian wounded.

The Hian Emergency Medical Clinic said that at least one 43-year-old civilian, a resident of the town, was critically wounded by gunfire and has been evacuated to a hospital in Nahariya, where his condition is now defined as serious yet stable. One officer was evacuated for medical care in moderate condition, the police official said, and four were lightly wounded.

A police official told Haaretz that Border Police and Israel Police officers arrived at the wedding following reports of an altercation there. Eyewitnesses said that before the police were called, guns were fired at the event.

The official added that when the police arrived, the people there attacked them; two police cars were set ablaze during the incident.

Deir al-Assad, Saturday.

Eyewitnesses who attended the wedding said that during the henna ceremony there, it seems as if one of the guests fired in the air, to which the police responded. When the police arrived, a number of guests responded negatively to their presence, which led to clashes. The witnesses said that the police used excessive force against the attendees after one of the police officers was wounded. 

Deir al-Assad residents do not know for certain who fired at the civilian who is currently in critical condition, but they believe he was hit by police. 

Other residents of the Galilee town claimed that police entered the dance floor and did not respond to the guests' calls to leave the site, and that the situation escalated when a Border Police officer fired his gun in the air.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, who is responsible for the police, called for calm on Saturday night. "Saturday's events in Deir al-Assad are very difficult. I am in constant contact with the police commissioner and other officials and receive frequent updates about the goings-on during and after the event," he said in a statement. 

He said that he requested that the commissioner carry out an investigation on the matter quickly, and to present him with the findings within 24 hours. The Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct, he said, "will of course carry out an independent investigation." 

He added, "There is no justification for the violence of every kind that we have seen today. And certainly no [justification] for gunfire, except for in life-threatening or life-saving situations. The residents of Deir al-Assad that protected the officers who were attacked in the field and rescued them are worthy of praise." 

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