Security officials said Tuesday overnight they believed Arab rioting in Israel and the West Bank would end soon, despite days of unremitting violence and terror attacks — explaining that despite their intensity, the protests remained relatively contained and were not receiving sweeping popular support on the Arab street.
“The assessment is that the riots will end soon,” senior police officials told Channel 2 News. “If we can restrain [the situation on] the Temple Mount we will be able to slowly, gradually restrain the other elements in the country.”
A military official told Ynet News the Palestinian public “is still indifferent and uninvolved in the escalation and is not coming out in great numbers to protest and create unrest, as was the case at the beginning of the Second Intifada.”
Security officials said they were satisfied with security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. Despite the fiery rhetoric coming out of Ramallah, they said, coordination on the ground was strong and Palestinian police were efficient in controlling crowds and keeping demonstrations from sweeping through the West Bank. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said earlier Tuesday that the PA was coordinating with Israeli forces on the ground, though he accused PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of inciting violence.
An unnamed government official added that security forces were being very careful to avoid enraging the Palestinian public and setting off widespread conflict. He too noted that “the events are not being led by a guiding hand as in the last intifada.”
On Tuesday police issued a statement to Jewish drivers urging them not to pass through the Galilean villages of Kafr Kanna and Turan, as well as other Arab Israeli communities in the Lower Galilee, as violence continued to be encountered there.
The police recommendation came several hours after an Israeli man suffered minor injuries when his car was struck by a rock near Turan, and amid riots which have erupted sporadically in Kafr Kanna in the wake of the shooting death late Friday of 22-year-old Kheir Hamdan by police. Hamdan had attacked a police cruiser with a knife but was shot while he apparently attempted to flee the scene.
Police said intelligence reports indicated that assailants planned to target Jews in the area of Kafr Kanna and Turan, according to Channel 10 news. However, police stressed that no overarching directives were placed against driving through Arab Israeli towns in general.
Dozens of protesters clashed with police in several Arab Israeli towns across the country’s north Tuesday. In Shfaram, masked demonstrators hurled stones at a police car, causing slight damage to the vehicle. No injuries were reported in the incident and police were searching the area for the perpetrator of the attack.
In the Arab Israeli village of Ibillin, rioters threw sticks and Molotov cocktails at a Border Police unit that was stationed in the area. Police arrested two men during the protest, Channel 10 reported.
In Jerusalem’s Old City, police arrested a 17-year-old Palestinian who had attempted to hide a butcher’s knife beneath his clothes. Police took the teen in for questioning, and shared a photo of the knife on Twitter.
Police briefly raised the possibility of a new nationalistic attack when they announced that the body of a man in his forties was found with signs of violence beneath an abandoned pickup truck on the road outside Nazareth. But they later said the death of the man, identified as Fuad Halaf of the Arab town of Muqeibla, was more likely to be criminal in nature.
Israel’s security cabinet convened Tuesday evening in Jerusalem to discuss the deteriorating security situation as beefed up police and security forces were dispatched to major cities and across the West Bank in a bid to restore quiet after several days of unrest and a wave of violent attacks, including fatal stabbings in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion. There were no immediate reports of details from the meeting.
According to Channel 2 news, the IDF assigned 2,000 additional fighters to secure Jewish settlements in the West Bank. IDF soldiers were reportedly stationed every few hundred meters along Route 60, the major north-south artery running through the West Bank.
On Tuesday afternoon, one Palestinian was killed and another was seriously injured by Israeli fire as riots broke out near Hebron. The army shot and killed Imad Jawabreh, 22, near the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Arroub north of Hebron. The army said soldiers opened fire at Jawabreh when he “aimed at them with an improvised weapon.”
The incident took place on a main road from Jerusalem to Hebron as some 200 Palestinians clashed with troops, the army said. Jawabreh was taken to the hospital in critical condition but died from bullet wounds to his chest, medics said.
In separate clashes south of Hebron, near the village of Dura and the Israeli settlement of Negohot, a Palestinian man was shot by Israeli forces and evacuated to a hospital in serious condition. The clashes erupted when about 150 Palestinian demonstrators began throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers and vehicles.
The IDF said it opened fire on the demonstrators after earlier attempts to disperse the crowd using tear gas and rubber bullets had failed.
Tuesday morning also saw a number of anti-Arab attacks, likely as revenge for the two fatal stabbing attacks on Jews a day earlier.
The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that dozens of cars in the West Bank town of Hawara had their windows smashed Tuesday during a settler rally.
Earlier Tuesday, police launched an investigation into a suspected “price tag” attack in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Beit Safafa, hours after an Arab cab driver was attacked by suspected Jewish extremists.
Adiv Sterman, AP and AFP contributed to this report