Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Saturday that he expected the Israeli justice system would deal harshly with the Arab Israeli protesters arrested overnight Friday-Saturday following violent clashes with police in several Arab Israeli towns in the center and north of the country.
Liberman said a “clear message” must be sent to “those who enjoy Israeli citizenship but behave like [Palestinian] terrorists.”
“These incidents prove once again that the place of these people is not Israel and until then, their rightful place is in jail,” he wrote in a Facebook message.
Police arrested 31 people in connection with the rioting overnight Friday-Saturday in which hundreds of Arab Israelis burned tires and clashed with security forces in Kalanswa, Taibe, Tira and Baqa al-Gharbiya in protest of the death of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir, 16. Police said more arrests were expected Saturday and that that reinforcements were called up should additional rioting take place later in the day.
In Kalanswa, east of Netanya and just inside Israel from the pre-1967 West Bank lines, a 20-year-old motorcycle rider was attacked by demonstrators Saturday morning while driving along the road into the town. He was hospitalized in moderate condition at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.
The incident followed several attacks on Jewish drivers by masked men on road 5614 into and out of Kalanswa, which was blocked due to burning tires overnight.
The masked men began asking drivers stuck on the road if they were Jewish. Two of the drivers who answered back in Hebrew were dragged from their cars and beaten. One of them managed to get back in his car and drive away while the other escaped on foot. His car was set on fire.
A police officer in uniform was also attacked on the road. He escaped on foot and his vehicle sustained damage.
In the Wadi Ara area in northern Israel on Saturday, several Molotov cocktails were launched at the town of Mei Ami nearby. Police were called to the scene.
The clashes came after a day of violent demonstrations in East Jerusalem on the heels of the funeral of Abu Khdeir whose body was found in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday in what is believed to have been a revenge killing for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens on June 12.
In Shuafat, Abu Khdeir’s home neighborhood of Jerusalem, several men reportedly attempted to cut down an electric pole powering Jerusalem’s light rail with a circular saw, and posted a photo of the act to Facebook, before being chased off by police.
Dozens of people threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police forces in East Jerusalem, who responded with non-lethal weapons to quell the unrest.
Near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, some 40 Palestinians also hurled rocks and rolled burning tires at police forces, Channel 10 reported.
The renewed violence Friday night followed several hours of relative calm in the capital after a day of heavy rioting and emotionally charged demonstrations, as Abu Khdeir was laid to rest.
Police officials said there would be increased presence across the city throughout Friday and Saturday, with an emphasis on East Jerusalem and areas prone to violence.
Around 35 Palestinians and 13 police officers were lightly wounded during the day’s events, before the renewal of violence Friday night.
Thousands of Palestinians, some firing weapons into the air, attended the funeral of Abu Khdeir. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the murder; police investigators increasingly believe Abu Khdeir was murdered by Jewish terrorists in revenge for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered on June 12, but there has not been a definitive declaration to this effect.
Chanting “with our blood and our spirit we shall sacrifice for the martyr,” mourners carried the shrouded body of Abu Khdeir, 16, through Shuafat as flag-waving crowds thronged the narrow streets, before he was buried in a local cemetery.
“I hope your death brings victory to Palestine,” Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, said as her son was laid to rest. “May God burn the criminals who burned my son. I do not wish for any family to experience the sorrows that have come upon us.”
The teenager’s funeral coincided with the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. As it took place, riots broke out in several locations throughout the capital, with hundreds of Arab youths hurling stones and makeshift Molotov cocktails at police officers. Masked protesters hurled rocks at police near the site of the funeral as well. Police blocked all the roads leading from East Jerusalem neighborhood’s to the city’s western half for several hours.
In anticipation of unrest Friday, Border Police in the city had increased their preparedness in Jerusalem, bringing in reinforcements, and limiting access to the Temple Mount to Muslim men 50 years and over, as well as all women.
Just 8,000 worshipers joined the weekly prayers there, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. Many apparently stayed away fearing clashes with police. On the same day last year police reported a crowd of 80,000.
The police precautions came after two days of clashes between East Jerusalem residents and Border Police officers as tensions escalated sharply surrounding Israeli calls for revenge against Arabs for the killing of the three teens — Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-ad Shaar on June 12; their bodies were found north of Hebron on June 30.
Earlier Friday, clashes broke out between Arab youths and police around the Temple Mount complex. Blasts from stun grenades were heard from the site of the turmoil, as dozens of demonstrators tried to breach a police barrier at an entrance to the compound.
Clashes also broke out in the Ras-al-Amoud neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinians reportedly hurled stones at IDF soldiers in three different locations. IDF troops responded both with live fire and rubber bullets, according to Haaretz. Eight Palestinians were reported injured during the clashes, including one who was shot with live ammunition, the IDF said.
Police officials told The Times of Israel they were continuing to investigate whether Abu Khdeir was murdered in a family honor killing, or if it was a nationalistically motivated slaying. According to officials familiar with the case, investigators increasingly view the killing as a revenge attack perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.
AFP, Adiv Sterman and Lazar Berman contributed to this report.