Arab boy seriously hurt in firebombing of Jaffa home; riots spread across Israel

Violence flares between Arab and Jewish communities across the country; protesters clash with police in northern towns, East Jerusalem

Firebomb victim Muhammad pictured shortly after his home in Jaffa was attacked. (Screenshot/Twitter)
Firebomb victim Muhammad pictured shortly after his home in Jaffa was attacked. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Israeli police and security forces continued to try to quell rioting across the country on Friday, with clashes between officers and Arab residents spreading to northern Israel over the course of the day and heavy fighting reported in East Jerusalem in the evening.

Late Friday night, Arab rioters in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Acre torched the Acre theater, which locals have described as a symbol of Arab-Jewish coexistence. “It’s incredibly painful to see this happen,” Moni Yosef, one of the theater’s managers, told Ynet.

Clashes also broke out in the northern Israeli towns and cities of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Fureidis, Haifa, Umm al-Fahm, Jisr az-Zarqa, and other areas in the north. Police said officers used riot dispersal means as violent protesters threw rocks and firebombs, and launched firecrackers. Police also said they made a number of arrests, with suspects taken in for questioning. In Nahf, an Arab town near Carmiel, rioters set a truck alight, attacking officers with firebombs and rocks when they arrived at the scene. One person was arrested, Ynet reported.

In Jaffa, a home in the Ajami neighborhood was firebombed, injuring two Arab children — a 12-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl — and prompting police to launch an investigation.

Surveillance footage from the incident showed two hooded figures walking in an alleyway near the home before it was attacked.

The boy was hospitalized in serious condition and under sedation, with burns to his upper body.

In Lod, a city that is home to both Jews and Arabs and that has seen some of the worst fighting this week, police said they shot and wounded a person trying to throw a firebomb towards a municipal building, injuring him lightly. Police said officers used a 22-caliber Ruger sniper rifle, which is considered less lethal than standard issue rifles and is sometimes used for riot control.

In East Jerusalem, hundreds of rioters clashed with Border Police officers in the neighborhoods of A-Tor, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, Shuafat, and Beit Hanina among others, throwing rocks, firebombs, and firecrackers at the Israeli forces. In one incident, a police car was torched but no injuries were reported.

Palestinians light a Molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli forces in the neighborhood of Shuafat in East Jerusalem on May 14, 2021. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

In Sheikh Jarrah, one of the focal points of this week’s unprecedented flare-up of violence and where there has been an international outcry over Israeli plans to evict Palestinian families and hand over the homes to Jews who had proven their pre-1948 ownership, Arab protesters threw stones at the Jewish homes, according to a Ynet report.

Video footage from the incident appeared to show two Jewish men firing warning shots into the air in response. According to Ynet, the men were arrested by police.

Earlier Friday, Israeli police said nine people were injured during violent unrest surrounding the arrest of a senior Islamist leader in Kafr Kanna, in northern Israel. Four were reported to be in serious condition.

Police said that during the arrest of Kamal Khatib, officers encountered “violent resistance” from residents who blocked roads, burned objects, threw stones and “opened fire at officers.”

Palestinian protesters hurl stones during clashes with Israeli forces in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem.(Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

The overall fighting marked some of the worst internal unrest in years as violence between Jewish and Arab communities across the country spiraled from confrontations in Jerusalem in recent weeks surrounding the month-long Muslim month of Ramadan and clashes on the Temple Mount, and came to a head as Israel engaged in an escalating clash with terrorist groups in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip this past week.

Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians on the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa mosque compound on May 10, 2021. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

The head of Israel’s Shin Bet said earlier Friday the security service won’t tolerate ethnic violence “by Arabs nor by Jews” after nightly clashes this week. Chief Nadav Argaman said Friday that Shin Bet “will not allow violent lawbreakers to carry out terrorism on the streets of Israel.”

He spoke after consecutive nights of apparent revenge attacks by Arab and Jewish mobs in Lod, Jaffa, Haifa, and elsewhere inside Israel.

Argaman said the Shin Bet was working with Israeli police and Border Patrol in those mixed cities. The effort is aimed at identifying, catching and prosecuting “whoever tries to hurt Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, until peace returns to the streets of the country.”

Since Monday, Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip have launched over 2,000 rockets into Israel and Israeli troops have responded with heavy fire on Gaza, including an especially heavy bombardment overnight Thursday and Friday aimed at destroying the Hamas terror group’s underground network.

Rockets are launched from Gaza City, towards Israel early on May 15, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Ten Israelis including a young child have been killed by the rocket fire and hundreds more injured, according to authorities. In Gaza, the toll from the fighting climbed to over 100, including dozens of children, with 950 wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The IDF says some of the fatalities, including some of the minors, were killed by errant rocket fire from within Gaza. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, though Israel says that number is much higher.

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