Wild, wild western Galilee
Hebrew media review

Wild, wild western Galilee

A brawl between Muslims and Druze that left over 40 injured makes headlines, as does Lapid’s talk of jumping ship

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

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)

A brawl between Muslims and Druze residents that left dozens injured in northern Israel makes front page news Sunday, while an impending dust-up between the European Union and Israel threatens to strain relations.

One man was in critical condition and at least 40 others were injured in a fight between Druze and Muslims in the northern town of Abu Snan Friday night, and the Hebrew press refers to the incident as “War in the village” and “The night of rage.” Yedioth Ahronoth reports that shots were fired, knives drawn, stones and a grenade thrown and at least 43 people injured. Haaretz reports that no arrests have been made and that the local council canceled school on Sunday following the violence.

Tensions between Druze and Muslims in the western Galilee town were ignited earlier in the week after Muslim students protested the death of Kheir Hamdan, which Druze students took as an affront to the death of Jedan Assad, a  Border Police officer killed in a Jerusalem car-terror attack, Yedioth Ahronoth explains. On Friday the tensions were rekindled and devolved into violence.

Israel Hayom makes the tasteless comparison of Friday’s scuffle to Lebanon and Syria, saying that an unwitting observer might have confused the fight for “sectarian war on the turf of a mixed village” in either war-torn country to the north. It ups the injury count, reporting 44 hurt in the clashes, including one critically and nine seriously. The paper reports that residents of the village, which is a third Druze and half Muslim, said that last week Muslim residents celebrated the terrorist attack in which Assad was killed, and that some of them waved “flags of the [Palestinian] Authority, and in forums on Arab networks called the Druze ‘traitors.'”

Haaretz reports that Friday’s brawl began when a Muslim teen and a Druze teen got into an argument over offensive comments made about girls on Facebook and Secret, an anonymous social media application. One stabbed the other, precipitating the riot.

The papers also jump on Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid’s remarks threatening to tear down the current government unless his demands concerning healthcare reform, housing reform and social programs are included in the budget.

“If we don’t reach agreements on these issues, we’ll stop the discussions about the budget and we’ll go to elections,” Lapid is quoted in Yedioth Ahronoth saying. The paper quotes sources close to Lapid laying blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud officials for trying to torpedo the budget.

Israel Hayom, on the other hand, quotes senior officials in the coalition saying that Lapid is trying to form an alternative government with Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog without going to elections. The paper quotes Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein bashing such a “stinky operation,” saying that if there’s a change in government must be achieved at the ballot box.

Haaretz, meanwhile, headlines its Sunday paper with a report on an unpublished EU document outlining sanctions against Israel should Jerusalem reject a two-state solution. The document distributed to the 28 member states sketches out a series of sticks and carrots — but mostly sticks, Haaretz notes — which are to be used against Israel in the event that it takes steps in the West Bank to prevent a Palestinian state.

“The peace process is in deep freeze, but the situation on the ground is not. There is big frustration in Europe and zero tolerance for settlement activity. This paper is part of the internal brainstorming being done in Brussels these days, about what can be done to keep the two-state solution alive,” the paper quotes an anonymous European diplomat saying.

Yedioth Ahronoth also reports on eight former Bank Leumi employees being arrested on suspicion of threatening to release the personal information of two million credit card holders if they weren’t paid off. The prime suspect among the eight people arrested was extradited from Thailand back to Israel for his alleged involvement in the extortion case. The police investigation began after the primary suspect, who was fired from the company, sent a threatening email to the bank administrators claiming that he’d copied sensitive information, and demanded millions of shekels for not distributing it online.

The paper reports that had the personal details of customers been released, anyone would have been able to use the customers’ credit cards, causing enormous damage to Leumi.

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