Hamas terrorists also killed Muslim woman, Arab taxi driver

Police chief hails ‘exemplary behavior’ of Arab Israelis amid war with Hamas

Comments come after fears raised by far-right politicians of a repeat of intercommunal riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities that accompanied previous conflict with Hamas in 2021

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai speaks to a meeting of the Knesset National Security Committee on October 22, 2023. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset)
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai speaks to a meeting of the Knesset National Security Committee on October 22, 2023. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset)

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised the Arab Israeli community for refraining from “incidents” since the start of the war with Hamas amid repeated fearmongering by far-right politicians of Jewish-Arab violence in Israel’s mixed cities of the kind that took place two years ago.

“We have to say a good word about their exemplary behavior, with zero incidents,” Shabtai said Sunday at a meeting of the National Security Committee of the Knesset on the subject of “preparedness for a  Guardian of the Walls scenario,” a reference to the violent intercommunal riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities that accompanied a previous conflict with Hamas in 2021.

Shabtai said that where there were “centers of concern,” they were dealt with on a local level.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has been repeatedly warning of a “Guardian of the Walls 2,” since the October 7 Hamas onslaught in which terrorists from the Gaza Strip killed over 1,400 people in Israel, most of them civilians.

Ben Gvir was widely criticized for his comments by his fellow coalition members, who accused him of being irresponsible.

Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities were the scene of intense riots during the May 2021 conflict with Hamas. Three people were killed and hundreds more were hurt in days of violent unrest.

A car burns in the central Israeli city of Lod during riots on May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Ben Gvir, at the time an MK but not a minister, urged armed Israeli civilians to go to mixed cities to combat Arab rioters, leading police chief Shabtai to reportedly blame the far-right politician for the riots.

Shabtai on Sunday told the Knesset committee that while there have been no real signs of intercommunal violence, police were better prepared than in 2021 and were working closely with leaders in mixed cities and towns. He also said police manpower had been significantly boosted.

At least four Arab Israelis have been charged with incitement to violence in recent days for social media posts glorifying and praising the Hamas assault.

Also Monday, a preacher at a mosque in East Jerusalem was arrested for calling on worshipers to take up arms, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

“Every Muslim must fight the holy war, jihad, the commandment of the Islamic nation. Fight mercilessly. Victory is coming, it is already here, the liberation of the land has begun,” the man reportedly said.

“It will not end until we reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire state of Palestine,” he said.

Some 2,500 Hamas terrorists burst through the Gaza border fence into southern Israel on October 7, under the cover of thousands of rockets fired into Israel. They infiltrated border communities, massacring families and taking at least 222 people hostage.

According to reports, the terrorists also killed any Arab Israelis they encountered.

Muhammad Altlak’at, a Bedouin man from the Negev, told Kan’s Arabic service on Sunday that his wife had been killed even though she had been clearly dressed in Muslim garb.

“A Muslim woman wearing a hijab — do you think at a distance of three meters you can’t recognize a person?” Altlak’at said.

“They were [in] a taxi, the [terrorists] stopped the taxi, the driver told them, ‘We are Arab, I swear we are Arabs.’ The [terrorist] put his rifle through the window and shot him,” he said.

Most Popular
read more: