Police arrest more than 250 in Arab riots inside Israel

“We are here and we are using the full weight of our power in order to defend the State of Israel from enemies from without and from rioters within,” Netanyahu said.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior police official said Wednesday that law enforcement had been reinforced throughout the country to prevent a repeat of the violent riots by Israeli Arabs in which Jewish neighborhoods and police were attacked.

“From this moment … zero tolerance. Police are in the streets. The city of Lod is in the full control” of the police, deputy inspector Eli Levi told Channel 11, who said police had to deal with 60 separate incidents of civil disorder across the country Tuesday night, including riots in the city of Lod where Arab youth rampaged in the streets beating Jews, burning cars, several synagogues and a school and forcing police to escort Jewish residents to safety.

Police announced a curfew would be imposed at 8:00 pm in Lod as heavily armed border police and mounted police on horses were deployed around the city that had been known for its large Arab and Jewish populations and peaceful co-existence.

During the rioting in Lod an Arab resident was shot dead by a Jewish man who said the shooting was in self-defense. The alleged shooter is in police custody despite calls by Jewish politicians for his release.

Levi said all the incidents across the country happened simultaneously, taxing police resources and leaving the public with the impression that the police had disappeared because of video footage showing rioters wreaking havoc unimpeded.

Police said more than 250 people were arrested Tuesday night in disturbances that included Jerusalem, Lod, Acre and Haifa, adding that five battalions of border police had been transferred from Judea and Samaria to bolster the regular police force, especially in areas where there had been heavy rioting Tuesday. Over 100 police officers were injured as rioters threw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police, and one officer was run over by a car.

Many senior Arab officials remained quiet in the wake of the events, but two Knesset members made public statements calling for Arabs to obey the law.

Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamic United Arab List (Ra’am) party called on “all leaders of Arab society to guard life and act wisely,” while Knesset member Esawi Freij blamed the “minority that takes us to dangerous places” and called for the silent majority to use its voice.

Arab Joint List member Ahmad Tibi, however, defended the rioters, tweeting that “protest is a legitimate right,” but added that “houses of worship and holy places, property or people on the road or students should not be harmed.”

Fellow Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tweeted that “there is no justification for harming any citizen” and called for Arabs and Jews to act together “against incitement and violence,” but added in the same sentence that he was also against “siege and occupation.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Acre to meet police and city officials, after visiting Lod late Tuesday following the riots there.

“We are in a fight on several fronts,” Netanyahu said referring to the rioting and the rockets being fired by terrorists in Gaza. “We will continue the effort to stop the anarchy, restore governance to Israel’s cities with an iron fist if necessary, with all necessary force and with all necessary authority.”

Netanyahu called the disturbances in the Jewish-Arab integrated cities “intolerable.”

“This reminds us of scenes from the history of our people and we cannot accept this, certainly not in our state,” Netanyahu said, adding that police were given the power to impose curfews, if necessary.

“It must be understood that the first thing we want is to stop the wave of riots. I call on all public leaders, especially the leaders of the Arab public, to condemn and to take all action to stop this,” the prime minister said. “The fabric of life that we all aspire to and that we are all proud of, there are those who are trying to unravel it, we will not allow this.”

“If somebody thinks that there will not be united, strong and forceful leadership here due to this or that consideration, they are mistaken. We are here and we are using the full weight of our power in order to defend the State of Israel from enemies from without and from rioters within,” Netanyahu said.