Ministers pledge additional protection, restoration of law and order in Israel’s south after public bus stoning, allegedly at the hands of Bedouins.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev promised to protect bus drivers and passengers after reports that a public bus en route to the southern city of Eilat was stoned on Tuesday evening.
“Throwing stones at vehicles is terrorism for all intents and purposes, especially when it comes to mass transportation and any damage to it can cost many lives,” read a statement from the pair, echoing sentiments expressed by the Egged bus company.
Egged said on Wednesday morning that they believe the bus was stoned by Bedouins, who acted in line with anti-Israel, “nationalist” motives.
“These are young Bedouin rioters who have recently frequently attacked Egged’s buses on the roads of the northern Negev…[because of] the perception that an Egged bus is as a symbol of the Zionist regime,” said the bus company.
The driver told Walla News that the vehicle had been packed with passengers, and that the bus was damaged in several areas.
בזמן שישנתם: בדואים יידו אבנים על אוטובוס בדרך לאילת. pic.twitter.com/SakvWEYwHD
— Ido Ben Porat – עדו בן פורת (@IdoBenp) November 30, 2021
He described the event as “an intifada,” but “fortunately, he passengers were not harmed. I am not used to these things, [but] we behaved calmly and took care of the passengers.”
“Drivers of public transport vehicles must be protected and arrive safely to their destination,” Michaeli said in the statement.
“I was happy to be briefed thoroughly by the public security minister on the steps the southern district is taking to bring safety and a feeling of safety to the area…. someone committed to the concerns of drivers and passengers, I will continue to raise the status of the drivers and monitor police activity in the area to prevent recurrence of these incidents.”
Bar Lev said that his office was taking action to ensure the safety of public transportation users in Israel’s southern district.
“Incidents of stone throwing at buses are in addition to the difficult situation in the south and the relaxation of enforcement that followed the May 2021 disturbances,” he said, referring to widespread Arab Israeli rioting and car stoning during Operation Guardian of the Walls.
“We will not allow this to continue. Over the last two months the southern district has begun implementing advanced plans to deal with violence and crime across the Negev, increasing police and Border Guard forces in the sector and many other programs that are already showing initial results,” he said.
“They are leading to significant arrests and the quick apprehension of suspects. But so long as even one citizen feels unsafe to travel the roads, we have a lot of work ahead of us and the true test is how the sense of security of people in the south and road users improves. The south is no longer lawless!”
But despite Bar Lev’s optimistic final statement, residents of Israel’s south have complained that disturbances in the region have grown significantly worse in recent months.
In November, two warring Bedouin clans clashed in front of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, with reports indicating that live shots were fired during the brawl.