Ugly Riots In Acco on Yom Kippur

An ugly situation unfolded in Acco Yom Kippur eve as tensions between Jews and Arabs in the city exploded into riots and vandalism. There was another demonstration Thursday night as well.

Neither side comes off very well here. It seems that the incident was started when an intoxicated Arab resident drove into a Jewish neighborhood blasting music on the holiest day of the Jewish year. He refused to leave, and Jewish teens attacked him. Arabs youths quickly heard about the scuffle and started rioting through Jewish neighborhoods. Rumors have caused riots among Arab repeatedly in the North, including the fighting between Arabs and Druze after rumors circulated that Arab youths were posting pictures of nude Druze girls on the internet.

It is especially disturbing that the Arab residents were yelling “Allahu Akbar” as they smashed the windows of Jewish-owned shops. It seems the police acted swiftly and effectively to bring the situation under relative control, but this is a reminder of how delicate the balance is in northern Israel between Muslim Arab,s Christian Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, and Jews.

From The Jerusalem Post:

A riot in Acre shattered the Yom Kippur calm on Wednesday night as hundreds of the city’s Arab residents vandalized Jewish-owned shops and vehicles and clashed with police.

On Thursday evening, tensions boiled over again during a demonstration held by Jews against the previous evening’s occurrences. Both Jews and Arabs clashed with police in various parts of the racially divided city, leading to 10 arrests. In total, at least eight people were lightly injured in the successive nights of violence.

For part of Thursday evening, the city was in lockdown, its entrances temporarily closed off, as hundreds of riot and border police armed with water cannons and tear gas worked to restore calm to Acre’s streets.

Police say the disturbances were sparked deliberately on Wednesday evening when an Arab driver, Tawfik Jamal – a resident of Acre’s Old City – made his way to the predominantly Jewish Ben-Gurion neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, blasting loud music from his vehicle as a provocation on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Speaking to Channel 2 News, Jamal denied he had intended to provoke local residents, saying he had driven with his 18-year-old son and the son’s 20-year-old friend carefully and quietly from the Old City to the Ben-Gurion neighborhood, three kilometers away, to pick up his daughter from her fiancé’s home.

But police dismissed Jamal’s claims.

“This was a provocation. An Arab driver arrived in a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur with blaring music, and refused to leave when asked to by local residents. We believe he was intoxicated. This was a deliberate act,” Galilee Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Eran Shaked said.

The verbal confrontation between Jamal and the local residents quickly deteriorated into violence, as rocks and bottles were thrown at Jamal’s vehicle.

According to Jamal, he and his two passengers fled the car. The three were taken to hospital where they were treated for light injuries and released.

In the meantime, police said, “False rumors that Arabs were seriously harmed or killed by Jews reached the Old City, and caused a far more serious and organized incident in Acre.”

Responding to the rumors, hundreds of Arabs set out from the Old City toward the Ben-Gurion neighborhood, walking down a main road, smashing store windows and cars along the way. Reports said the mob shouted “Kill the Jews,” “Allahu Akbar,” and “If you come out of your homes, you will die.”

At the same time, a few hundred Jews had congregated in the streets of the Ben-Gurion neighborhood. Fearing a deadly clash, police acted quickly, mobilizing “a very large force” to prevent the two groups from confronting one another, Shaked said.

“We used tear gas and other means to disperse the [Arab] group heading toward Ben-Gurion, thereby preventing a far more serous incident. Lives were saved because of this action,” Shaked said.

Five police officers were wounded by rocks, and two civilians were lightly wounded during the clashes, a result that Shaked said was nothing compared to what would have happened had police not acted swiftly to separate the two sides.

Shaked said violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in the city was an “unusual” event.

On Thursday night, tensions boiled over again, as both Jews and Arabs clashed with the police.

Police denied riots were taking place, saying a demonstration was being held by Jewish residents in the eastern part of the city against the previous evening’s incidents.

Jews tried to break through police lines without success.

“There is a demonstration and it is under control,” Shaked insisted on Thursday. Police, including officers on horseback, had positioned themselves in large numbers in sensitive spots considered likely flashpoints where Jews and Arabs could clash.

Police Commissioner Ch.-Insp. Dudi Cohen held a special situation analysis meeting at an Acre police station on Thursday evening. Cohen admitted that local police were caught off guard by the outbreak of hostilities.

“I am aware of the evidence and witness to the consequences,” Cohen said, alluding to the widespread damage. “It is difficult for me to assess whether the incident was nationalistically motivated or simply an act of hooliganism; we will know this later on. I wish to stress that the Acer Police Department prepared for this Yom Kippur in accordance with recent years and we had no information indicating that such as incident was about to occur.”

Cmdr. Shimon Koren, Northern District police chief, arrived in Acre to oversee police operations. “Our aim is to prevent Jews and Arabs from clashing,” he said. “We won’t allow anyone to riot.”

The riots garnered strong reactions from political leaders.

MK Ahmed Tibi called the riots a “Jewish pogrom,” and said the police were handling the “attack against the Arab residents” in a discriminatory manner.

Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei echoed Tibi’s words, saying that “fascist gangs in Acre carried out a pogrom against Arabs, reminiscent of dark days in human history. We have been warning for a while of the expansion of these gangs in Acre, whose only purpose is to harass the Arabs.”

“Mixed cities are supposed to serve as a model of coexistence… The police must impose order, otherwise these cities will turn into ticking time bombs,” MK Nadia Hilou (Labor) commented Thursday night. Hilou, who heads the Knesset lobby for mixed cities, called on Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to come to Acre. “I foresee an immediate danger – these sorts of riots might spread to the rest of the region,” she added.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in response to the riots that maintaining coexistence between Arab and Jewish sectors in Israel was a highly important mission. He called on Acre residents to show restraint and to do their best to make efforts to get life in the city back on track.

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni spoke with Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri, who updated her on events.

Israel Beiteinu MK Estherina Tartman said, “The pogrom in Acre is another proof that the Arabs of Israel are the real threat to the state. There is no solution [other than] a swap of territories,” she said.
Israel’s only Arab minister, Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) said he believed that the Acre riot was “an exceptional and unusual incident, and I hope it won’t repeat itself.”
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called the Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Police Chief David Cohen to resign. “Israel has become the only country in the world where pogroms against Jews are taking place, [with participants] harming them, their property and calling to kill the Jews. A police [force] incapable of protecting the Jewish residents of Acre and Peki’in needs to reassess itself,” Steinitz said.

13 Responses to Ugly Riots In Acco on Yom Kippur

  1. E.G. says:

    While some report this and other (e.g., in Jaffa, Haifa) cases of Israeli Moslems harrassing Jewish Israelis on Yom Kippur as deliberate acts, I’m willing to believe that such acts are not intentional provocations.
    Alas, good neighbourhood relationships imply being sensitive to your neighbours’ feelings – and everyone in Israel knows that playing loud music on Yom Kippur is considered rude, and that driving is frowned upon. I recall, many years ago, coming from the airport just in time for a bite before the fast and being shouted-at by kids upset by the late (albeit still permissible) use of the car…
    This lack of sensitivity shocks me, all the more when coming from people who urge others to respect their feelings, customs and traditions. And the vandalism, with the “Itbah al Yahud” cries, that followed the initial incident is frightening.
    And if this is not enough, Jihadis are now calling for a 3rd intifada:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3607353,00.html

  2. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    I’m willing to believe that such acts are not intentional provocations.

    It is very difficult to tell because there is a lot of incitement from the Imams, especially on Fridays, and also generally from the daily political aspect where rumour is rife.
    In the meantime, police said, “False rumors that Arabs were seriously harmed or killed by Jews reached the Old City, and caused a far more serious and organized incident in Acre.”

    That they could organise so quickly says something, no?

    The first Intifada started with rumours spread by “inciters” about a traffic accident.
    And here we have:

    MK Ahmed Tibi called the riots a “Jewish pogrom,” and said the police were handling the “attack against the Arab residents” in a discriminatory manner.

    When will people wake up to this gross incitement to violence.
    Discrimination! Hoo ha, the racist card! These very same Arabs who discriminate left, right and centre.

    Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei echoed Tibi’s words, saying that “fascist gangs in Acre carried out a pogrom against Arabs,

  3. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    This is not the first time Arabs take advantage of Yom Kippur either.

    Even without attributing intentions or premeditation (does it really take much time to get sticks/bats and knives?) to the perpetrators, the absence of basic civil notions is obvious and shocking. All the more as these are people who’ve been living for decades and generations in a democratic society.

    What I worry about is the indoctrination that the vandalism reveals, nourished on both bitterness over the Arab past and distorted mirror-imaging of persecuted Jews (note the evolution from the plain faux “massacre” to the resonant inversed “pogrom”).
    Bad old Honour-Shame…

  4. oao says:

    there is only one thing i wish on the israeli arabs: to live in their own country under their own leaders. they dont deserve any better.

  5. Guringo says:

    “Itbach al-yahood” (kill the Jews) was the far more pervasive chant that night and I believe, far more disturbing than “Allahu akhbar”, except perhaps when you hear the latter suddenly shouted in some crowded place.
    Jerusalem Post as well as Ynet, tend to mix the story up before serving; there were no gatherings of Jews that first night in the Ben-Gurion neighborhood or elsewhere, nor any police force to deal with the Arab rioters, and the fact remains that these news agencies failed to report the calls to riot over the muazeen loudspeakers, and the buses deployed to such an end.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    There are several pieces of evidence indicating a planned riot with the Arab driver, Tawfiq Jamal, serving as a provocateur. According to some accounts I’ve read [as well as testimony from somebody who came to Jerusalem to get away from the violence in Akko], a large gang of Arab thugs arrived in the Jewish neighborhood on a bus. Also, consider the report in the JPost of Muslim imams inciting revenge for an alleged Jewish attack on the offensive Arab driver by calling on mobs through the mosque loudspeakers. Then, according to an eyewitness account on the French service of Arutz7, the Arab mob arrived only in the small hours of the morning, a couple of hours after the original Arab provocation. Since nearly all the Jews were home and in bed at the time, the Arabs could rampage at will through the Jewish neighborhood, busting car windshields and store show windows. The police arrived in small numbers and did not arrest or attack or shoot at the mob, although driving them back toward the Old City [a nearly all Arab neighborhood]. Hence, the police allowed the Arab mob to bust windows and wreck cars on their way back.

    The next night [Thursday] after the holiday, angry Jews demonstrated in the streets thirsting for revenge since the police had not protected them or their honor or their property.

    This incident shows once again the incapacity of the olmert-livni-ramon-barak govt to deal with the problems and crises facing the country. The initial soft hand of the police against Arab pogromchiks shouting Itbahh al-Yahud [slaughter the Jews!] made clear to the Jews of Akko that the police were not protecting them and that there was no law and order and no police will [or Establishment will] to enforce law and order, although on the second night, the police were capable of restraining the Jewish response to the Arab aggression. This obviously seems to the Jewish youth in Akko that the police show pro-Arab favoritism.

    Olmert made his first statement [as far as I know] only after the fourth night of rioting which was much less than needed, while livni’s remark was rather stupid, what one would expect from her since she is really dumb. As to how such a dummby could get to be even considered for prime minister shows many things about our current state. In any case, she is a front woman –a puppet– for old fools in the Establishment who have forgotten much that was intelligent and useful and have learned nothing new of any use or any good, only bad and stupid things. Yes, she is really stupid. Caroline Glick has had livni’s number for a long time. For those abroad, olmert is thoroughly and broadly loathed here in Israel, while livni is widely considered stupid and mainly respected in Establishment [hon/shilton הון-שלטון] quarters where governmental power intersects with wealth and the media under the label “Left.”
    Yet, foreign broadcasting networks, such as bbc & france24, pretend that olmert is a legitimate leader and that livni is not only legitimate but “Mrs Clean.” If you live outside of Israel, don’t believe much of what your media tell you. Bear in mind that they don’t tell you of many things happening here and that what they do tell is distorted and incomplete, not to mention pro-Arab partisan.

  7. Eliyahu says:

    one more thing:
    “leftist” ideology or what is nowadays considered “leftist” is a tool of domination over the Jews. It serves certain persons of wealth as well as anti-Israel foreign powers such as the pro-PLO European Union which finances the PA/PLO and views with favor the Hamas with its Nazi-like ideology [see the Hamas charter, especially Article 7].

  8. E.G. says:

    As expected, Haaretz today (editorial and Gideon Levy) comes up with the usual silly “explanations” (poverty, racism, bigotry) whitewashing Acre’s Arabs of any responsibility, and blaming – who else? – the Jews.

  9. Eliyahu says:

    EG is proving my point.

  10. E.G. says:

    Sad to have been of help, Eliyahu. That is, the situation is saddening.

    Dealing intelligently with such a situation is a terrible task. On one hand, using force (police, army) entails the danger of the accident the Arabs are waiting for in order to “justify” an insurrection. On the other hand, a restrained, appeasing attitude risks to be interpreted as weakness, prompting violence.

    Perhaps the best chance is provided by the economic crisis and the US elections that narrow media space and public attention for other issues.

  11. oao says:

    Israel has become more of a “normal” western country, where the ruling class — politicians, the wealthy, media — could not give a ff about the public. The era of altruistic leaders who founded and defended the state is long gone. Corruption and incompetence is the name of the game.

    In a certain sense the jihadists are right — the west is decadent and weak.

  12. Cynic says:

    On one hand, using force (police, army) entails the danger of the accident the Arabs are waiting for

    E.G.
    There are other ways and one is to take out the inciters surreptitiously. Nothing more fearful than not knowing what is around the next corner.
    But then of course that is against the “human rights” of the person screaming fire in a crowded cinema.

  13. oao says:

    It seems like the only human rights the so called leaders of Israel do not give a damn about is the jewish israeli citizens.

    the fact that kadima and labor signed a coalition agreement to avoid elections makes it clear that they know what would have awaited them if they went to elections.

    they are a bunch of corrupt, incompetent a..holes whose only concern is to stay in (illegitimate) power.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>