Northerners Are Fighting City Hall - With Bullets

The bodyguard for the mayor of Nazareth suffered moderate wounds on Monday as the result of a fragmentation grenade lobbed into the home of Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy. At around 11 P.M., unidentified individuals threw the grenade into the doorway of the home.

The bodyguard, who was standing in the entrance, was wounded and taken to the Italian Hospital in the city. At the time of the incident Jaraisy and his family were inside the house.

"Suddenly we heard a huge explosion and I ran outside. I saw the bodyguard sprawled in the entryway to the house and bleeding. We called the rescue squad and the police right away," Jaraisy told Haaretz.

Northern Police District Commander Maj. Gen. Shimon Koren arrived on the scene and said the police would step up efforts to confront the criminals. "The threats and the violence toward council heads and police will not deter us," Koren said. "We will use every means to [find] the perpetrators and we will bring them to trial."

Three weeks ago Yaakov Zohar, the appointed municipal council head in nearby Turan, finished his day's work. He turned off the light in his office and stopped to speak with his secretary for a moment. Suddenly from outside four shots were heard near the town hall. Two bullets hit his Peugeot, one of them in the driver's seat and another two hit the city hall. "It could be that the gunman thought I was already sitting in the car," Zohar told Haaretz.

The Northern District Attorney's Office suspects an inhabitant of Turan, Muatasem Adawi, 22, tried to assassinate Zohar. Adawi's friend Abed Adawi, 19, who allegedly drove him to the scene, is also wanted in the attempted murder. The indictment against the two was filed Monday and the district attorney has asked to extend their remand.

It appears Abed told an informer in the jail cell that together with Muatasem he had planned to shoot "the Jewish council head who hates Muslims."

The attempt to shoot Zohar took place three months after a similar attempt to hit Zvika Fogel, the appointed council head of the village of Tuba-Zangariya in the Upper Galilee. These two attempts are the peak of a wave of threats and attacks on local council heads in the north. According to Koren, there are currently 19 council heads under threat.

Zohar was appointed to the position by former interior minister Meir Sheetrit and replaced the elected mayor, Mazen Adawi. He says that in the year he has been in office he has brought about major changes in the council, which serve 12,000 residents.

He says he has cut the deficit from NIS 38 million to NIS 24 million, gone over to an annual budget surplus, increased tax collection from 24 percent to 68 percent, improved infrastructures, built roads and a community center and advanced plans for building schools and a library.

Two weeks ago, the home of Deputy Mayor of Nazareth Ali Salam also came under attack. On that same day a number of assailants approached the city hall and wreaked a great deal of havoc there.

This attack came in response to a parking ticket issued by a municipal inspector to an inhabitant of the city. The vehicle's owner attacked the inspector, who pepper-sprayed the man in defense.

As a result, the vehicle owner fell and broke a rib. The police have arrested seven suspects in the ensuing rampage and indictments have been filed against them.

Another threat was directed a week ago at Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat when an envelope was sent to his parents' home containing a photograph and a bullet.