Tuba's Appointed Council Head Resigns in Wake of Violence

Zvi Fogel says he feels he is also being targeted by violence ensuing after the torching of a local mosque early Monday morning.

After a wave of vandalism and violence in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariya, the head of the appointed local council, Zvi Fogel, Wednesday announced his resignation, effective in two months.

In a protest against the torching of the local mosque early Monday morning, residents went on a spree of violence Monday night - and Fogel said he felt he was also being targeted. Fogel's predecessor as the head of the local council, Hussein Heib, has said: "If there was not an appointed council and there was local leadership, it would not have happened." Tuba-Zangariya is a Bedouin town of some 5,500 people two kilometers east of Rosh Pina in the north.

Zvi Fogel, Tuba
Mori Chen

Hundreds of young men, furious over the arson that gutted the village mosque early Monday morning, went on a rampage that night, torching public buildings and firing into the air. They set fire to the local council building, completely destroying the offices. They also wrecked the Clalit health clinic, a youth club, a senior center and the community center. The walls of the clinic were riddled with bullets, but no injuries were reported.

Fogel is brigadier general in the reserves and served as the chief of staff of the Southern Command. He was appointed by the Interior Ministry to head the local council four years ago after the ministry dismissed the previous elected council. He tendered his resignation to the director general of the Interior Ministry, Amram Kalaji.

Two years ago, Fogel was shot at and his car was torched - but no one has been arrested for the attacks. He is accompanied by two bodyguards. "When they shot at me, I did see a reason to resign and decided to work hard and fight the incitement and violence, but to my regret I see now that they do not want to do anything in the village. Four years of amazing work by local council employees, years where we gave content and a future to the children and laid the foundations for management and providing services to citizens, were destroyed in one night," said Fogel.

Alheib said there was no reason to appoint Jews to head Arab municipalities: "We need a general to manage a Bedouin village?" He said he had worked all week to keep the violence from spreading to the entire Galilee, and had succeeded.

The Safed Magistrate's Court remanded 14 suspected rioters for another four days. One was remanded for another day and one was released, but was ordered to stay away from the village.

Fogel also attacked the police for meeting with Alheib and requesting his assistance "instead of investigating him over what he said." The police said they will meet anyone who can contribute to calming the situation.

They also said they will continue to arrest anyone who breaks the law and disturbs the peace.