Protests over killing seethe in Arab towns overnight
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Protests over killing seethe in Arab towns overnight

Intelligence minister calls on local leaders to ‘condemn such acts as the attempted lynching’ of a Jewish driver in Taibe

Palestinian youth seen throwing rocks towards Israeli Border Policemen at the entrance to the Arab village, Kfar Kanna, in Northern Israel, on November 9, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Palestinian youth seen throwing rocks towards Israeli Border Policemen at the entrance to the Arab village, Kfar Kanna, in Northern Israel, on November 9, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Violent protests in northern Arab communities raged overnight Sunday, with masked rioters burning tires, and throwing stones and petrol bombs at security forces stationed in the towns of Turan, Shfaram and Fordis.

Police said they expected more rioting throughout the day Monday, following the late Friday shooting of a 22-year-old-man by police in Kafr Kanna. Channel 10 reported that large police forces had deployed throughout the predominately Arab region of Wadi Ara in northern Israel and around the restive town outside Nazareth.

Police also sought to extend the remand of 24 suspects, 10 of whom are minors, who were arrested Sunday night in Kafr Kanna and Turan.

As yet unidentified suspects threw stones at two buses near the Baqa-Jaat interchange on Highway 6 and in the Wadi Ara region. There were no reports of injuries, but the buses’ windshields were damaged in the attacks.

Meanwhile, police said they arrested two youths in the A-Tur neighborhood of Jerusalem for allegedly throwing petrol bombs at security forces operating in the area.

In the West Bank, IDF forces arrested seven wanted men. Five were suspected of rioting and nationalist terror against civilians. Two of those were reportedly Islamic Jihad and Hamas members, according to Israeli news site Walla.

Yuval Steinitz attends a session of the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Knesset, October 16, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)
Yuval Steinitz attends a session of the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Knesset, October 16, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Monday that police were responsible for putting a stop to the riots and called on local leaders to “condemn acts such as the attempted lynching in Taibe,” where masked rioters on Sunday stopped a car on Route 444 at the entrance to the Arab city.

The rioters attacked the 40-year-old Jewish driver, but he managed to escape with the help of some locals, who transferred him to police in the area, according to reports. The demonstrators then torched his car.

Meanwhile, some 30 youths burned tires in Kafr Kanna on Sunday, according to police, while dozens of others set trashcans on fire, damaged traffic signs, and hurled stones at Israeli officers.

Police closed off the entrance to the town and later dispersed the demonstration. Over the day, 29 people were detained, most of the minors for stone-throwing, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

Members of a Channel 1 TV crew seeking to enter the embattled town were chased away by stone-throwers, who pummeled their car with rocks.

Rock throwing and protests were also reported in other flashpoint areas in northern Israel and elsewhere.

Israeli police detain an Arab rioter in Kafr Kanna, November 9, 2014. (photo credit: AFP)
Israeli police detain an Arab rioter in Kafr Kanna, November 9, 2014. (photo credit: AFP)
Screenshot from the news website Bokra.net showing an Israeli man receiving treatment after being attacked by rioters on a road near Taibe, November 9, 2014.
Screenshot from the news website Bokra.net showing an Israeli man receiving treatment after being attacked by rioters on a road near Taibe, November 9, 2014.
Screenshot from the news website Bokra.net showing the torched car of an Israeli man who attacked by rioters on a road near Taibe, November 9, 2014.
Screenshot from the news website Bokra.net showing the torched car of an Israeli man who attacked by rioters on a road near Taibe, November 9, 2014.

The news website Bokra.net also posted the following video showing masked men at the entrance to Taibe moments before the attack there.

No suspects have been arrested yet in the attack.

Route 444 was closed near Tira after protesters burned tires near the road. Police arrested a 15-year-old boy, Ynet reported.

The protests first erupted Saturday after a Kafr Kanna man was shot late Friday and killed by police. A video that emerged of the incident showed the man Kheir Hamdan, attacking a police cruiser with a knife, and then being shot as he appears to back off.

The officer who fired the fatal bullet — the only shot fired in the incident — told investigators that he believed his colleagues’ lives to be in danger, and that he shot to wound but not to kill, Channel 2 reported Sunday. He was the driver of the patrol car, and had gone to Kafr Kanna with three colleagues.

All four policemen are under investigation, but none has been suspended, and all will be reassigned Monday to what the TV report called “less fraught” areas of the country.

Arab leaders called a general strike Sunday to protest the killing.

Relatives of Hamdan urged Kafr Kanna locals Sunday afternoon to rein-in their protests, saying they feared further loss of life.

In the Galilee town of Shfaram, some 150 people protested against the shooting, waving flags, but no violence was reported.

Police arrested four suspects, including three minors, for throwing rocks at vehicles on Route 65 near Umm al Fahm in Wadi Ara.

On Route 1, the main artery between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, stones were thrown Sunday evening at a bus near the Arab town of Abu Ghosh.

In the West Bank Sunday evening, a car belonging to a Jewish woman was attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails near the settlement of Ma’ale Shomron. One of the firebombs hit the front of the vehicle, shattering a window. The woman, a mother of five, was not harmed.

“What’s appalling is that it’s clear to me that those who tried to kill me this evening will not pay the price. Because in Israel, attempted murder, especially using firebombs and stones, is considered something of a joke,” said the woman, identified by Maariv as Ruth Shapira.

Arab youths threw stones at the Jerusalem Light Rail near the Beit Hanina neighborhood Sunday evening, causing damage to one of the cars. Police were searching for the perpetrators.

Earlier in the day, Arab Israeli university students launched protests against the killing of Kheir Hamdan and called for a Third Intifada.

Dozens of students rallied outside Tel Aviv University against what they termed “the desecration of the holy sites,” in reference to recent tensions at the Temple Mount, according to Israel Radio. Protesters held aloft Palestinian flags, and signs reading “Israel, state of terror,” and “Shahid, rest in peace” — using the Arabic word for “martyr” for the slain Hamdan.

Arab-Israeli students protest at the Tel Aviv University on November 9, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash90)
Arab-Israeli students protest at the Tel Aviv University on November 9, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Over at Haifa University, some 120 demonstrators held a similar protest, during which they called for a Third Intifada. There was a demonstration, too, by Arab students at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

Additional protests were held throughout the day in Arab Israeli areas, including at Umm al-Fahm, Kafr Qasim, and Nazareth.

A scheduled Premier League soccer match Monday near Nazareth between Israeli Arab team Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Petah Tikva was called off by police fearing unrest.

Anticipating the violence in the aftermath of the Kafr Kanna incident, the Israel Police had raised its security alert to the second-highest level nationwide.

Overnight Saturday-Sunday, Israeli Arabs removed an Israeli flag from a police station near Misgav in the north, Army Radio reported, replacing it with a Palestinian flag. Police officers removed the Palestinian banner and raised the Israeli flag over the station a short while later and launched an investigation into the incident.

Riots near the northern Arab town of Taibe forced the closure of Route 444 on Sunday morning until police arrived to disperse the crowds.

Screenshot from Panet showing a photo of Kheir Hamdan, 20, who was shot by police November 7, 2014 during an attempted arrest. (Screenshot: Panet)
Screenshot from Panet showing a photo of Kheir Hamdan, 20, who was shot by police November 7, 2014 during an attempted arrest. (Screenshot: Panet)

Protesters burned tires and police arrested an 18-year-old suspected of involvement in the disturbances as police officers brought the riot to an end. The road was reopened a short while later.

In a separate incident, a Nazi swastika symbol was spray-painted Sunday morning on a bus stop at a junction in the northern Arab town of Fureidis, near Haifa.

Thousands of Arab protesters massed Saturday afternoon and evening along the main street of Kafr Kanna, protesting Hamdan’s death. The town mayor called the incident “murder in cold blood.”

In line with the strike, many Arab schools and colleges were shuttered. Businesses closed en masse in Sakhnin, Shfaram, Majd al-Krum, Tamra and Arabe. Partial closures were also evident in other towns. In the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Acre, most Arab businesses were open as usual.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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