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Police chief warns Jewish-Arab violence inside Israel could resume — TV

Kobi Shabtai said to tell top officers extensive deployment in cities will continue in coming days, defends enforcement: ‘We suppressed unprecedented violent uprising in 4 days’

Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai on January 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai on January 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police chief Kobi Shabtai has told top officers that Jewish-Arab violence could still erupt in the coming days despite the apparent end of the Gaza campaign, and has said increased police presence in problem areas will continue, according to a report Saturday.

“The end of the military campaign does not mean the campaign within the country is over,” Channel 12 news quoted Shabtai as telling police officials in internal discussions Saturday. “We could see attempts to heat things up again, as occurred in the Temple Mount yesterday.”

He said the response there “was measured and did not lead to a greater outbreak in the West Bank.”

Shabtai added that “the major deployment throughout the country continues for now, including Border Police reserves companies.”

Police came under heavy criticism for failing to control Arab and Jewish rioting within mixed cities for long days, leading to the callup of additional forces, including the Border Police reserves.

Shabtai maintained that police had operated well under the circumstances.

“During the conflict with Gaza, police suppressed an unprecedented violent uprising [inside Israeli towns] within four days,” he said, according to the network.

Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synagogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, as Arab residents rioted in the city on May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The past weeks saw escalating ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs inside Israeli cities alongside the armed conflict with Gaza terror groups. Protests by Arab Israelis against Israeli policies in Jerusalem and Gaza exploded into violent mob attacks. Jewish extremists struck back with revenge attacks.

Two people, one Arab and one Jewish, were killed in separate incidents in the city of Lod, and dozens were injured in clashes across the country, many of them seriously.

Medics evacuate an injured man during clashes between Arab and Jews in Acre, northern Israel, May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)

There was also extensive damage to property as tensions spiraled into mob violence in multiple ethnically mixed communities, with police failing for days to contain the most serious internal unrest to grip the country in years.

Police arrested hundreds of suspects following the riots and have indicted over 100 people so far, the vast majority of them Arab.

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