Muslim-Druze clashes wind down after violent brawl

Muslim-Druze clashes wind down after violent brawl

Police secure Abu Snan village, though firecracker hurled at cafe; 20 remain hospitalized from grenade, one critical

Police at the site where a large fight broke out between local Muslim and Druze residents in the Abu Snan village in northern Israel, November 15, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Police at the site where a large fight broke out between local Muslim and Druze residents in the Abu Snan village in northern Israel, November 15, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Sectarian violence between Muslim and Druze youths in a village in northern Israel subsided for the most part overnight Saturday, with a heavy police presence deployed in the area to prevent further clashes.

A makeshift firecracker was hurled at a coffee shop in Abu Snan early Sunday morning, causing damage to the building, police said. No one was injured in the attack.

Twenty people remained hospitalized in the Nahariya hospital after a massive Friday night brawl between Muslim and Druze community members in the northern town.

One of the injured is in critical condition, five are seriously wounded, and the rest lightly to moderately injured, Israel Radio reported.

Most of them were hurt by a fragmentation grenade used during the fighting. Protesters also used live ammunition in the brawl.

The head of the Abu Snan municipality, Nuhad Mishlav, said the fighting broke out following a stabbing attack between two high school students, one Muslim and one Druze, after the two exchanged insults online.

He clarified that the brawl was unrelated to a different incident earlier in the week, in which Muslim students were harassed for wearing keffiyehs to school in protest of the killing of 22-year-old Kheir Hamdan by police in Kafr Kanna.

“The municipality is making efforts to calm the situation and restore quiet to the village, and there will be no separation between Druze and Muslim students,” Mishlav said at a press conference on Saturday, according to Channel 10.

An emergency meeting between council members, Knesset members, and religious leaders convened Saturday night in an effort to resolve the tensions.

At least 26 people were injured in the brawl Friday night between some three dozen Muslim and Druze youths, prompting the two communities’ leaders to cancel school on Sunday.

A video of the violent incident was published on the popular Arabic-language website Panet, according to which some shots were fired during the fight.

Police sent reinforcements to the town to restore order and maintain calm.

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