Saturday, November 8, 2014

Riots in Jerusalem, Kafr Kanna

Palestinian Rioters, Police Clash In East Jerusalem

Clashes between police and Palestinian rioters raged Saturday night in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem as tensions remained high in the capital.

Police said officers arrested two residents of Shuafat on suspicion of throwing stones at the Jerusalem light rail in the northern neighborhood. Some damaged was caused to the train, but no injuries were reported. The train continued its journey.

Masked rioters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security personnel in the neighborhood of a-Tur.

Rocks were also thrown at a bus near the West Bank settlement of Barkan, causing the bus driver to lose control of the vehicle and smash into the guard rail. Three passengers were lightly injured and received medical treatment at the Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
Stones were also thrown at a public bus in northern Israel, near the town of Pardes Hannah-Karkur, causing damage to the vehicle but no injuries. Police were searching for the perpetrators.
Saturday’s violence came amid heightened tensions in the capital in recent weeks, with East Jerusalem and West Bank residents demonstrating and rioting in response to their fears that Israel seeks to change the status quo of the Temple Mount and allow Jews to pray there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly made clear that this is not the case.

Thousands of Israeli Arab protesters massed Saturday afternoon and evening along the main street of the Galilee town Kafr Kanna, protesting what they said was state terror in the death of 22-year-old local man Kheir Hamdan on Friday night. The town mayor called the incident “murder in cold blood.”

Demonstrators carried posters bearing Hamdan’s picture which read “His only crime was being Arab,” and chanting “Zionists, get out of our lives.” They waved Palestinian flags, and called for the dismissal of the police officers involved in Friday night’s shooting, senior police chiefs, and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch. They decried the police’s “light trigger finger” which they said led to Hamdan being shot and killed.

Mayor Majhad Awadeh and MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) participated in the protest, as did several Arab former MKs. An Arab umbrella group called for a state-wide general strike Sunday by Arab workers in response to the shooting.

Hundreds of Arab youths rioted at the entrance to the town, setting tires alight, and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police. Four residents were arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Police said Hamdan tried to stab an officer during an attempt to arrest him in the town, which is near Nazareth. Officials said officers arrived at Hamdan’s house late Friday night to arrest him on suspicion of throwing a stun grenade. When he attempted to stab one of the officers, the police shot and critically injured him, they said. Police added that they warned the man by firing in the air, and when he didn’t desist, he was shot in the chest.
A short, edited surveillance video of the incident, which surfaced Saturday on the popular Israeli-Arab news website Panet, showed a different sequence of events.

In it, Hamdan is seen attacking a police van, banging on the windows. An officer gets out and, as Hamdan is seen retreating, shoots him. Hamdan writhes on the ground, before police drag him into the van.

Hamdan’s uncle, Rafaa Amara, was quoted by Channel 2 criticizing the police, saying that his nephew “was retreating on foot. He wasn’t fleeing. They could have shot him in the leg, but to kill him, to treat him like he was a sheep? That we’ve never seen.”
“We will act so that those who did this will be brought to justice,” he said.

Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino on Saturday decided to raise the national alert level to the second highest following riots that broke out in the Galilean town of Kafr Kanna in response to police killing Friday of an Arab man. Israel’s Arab sector has called a one-day strike Sunday in protest of the killing.

Israeli Arab leaders voiced outrage over the police’s conduct in Friday night’s incident, in which police shot and killed Hamdan, who allegedly attempted to stab officers who were dispatched to arrest a relative of his.

“Israel is a nation of law. We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. I will instruct the Interior Minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett also defended police conduct, saying the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.
“A frenzied Arab terrorist attacked our police officers with a knife in an attempt to kill them. The response of our police was what was expected of our security people,” the economics minister said.
“It’s possible and necessary to investigate. Always. But it’s not ‘murder in cold blood,'” Ynet quoted him saying, in reference to remarks made by the mayor of Kafr Kanna about Hamdan’s death. “We definitely must not abandon our security forces who were sent to protect us.”

IDF soldiers gave out orders Saturday informing Palestinians of Israel’s plans to confiscate 3,176 acres (12,852 dunams) around Beit Iksa for military purposes, Palestinian media reported.

Beit Iksa residents said to Ma’an news agency that soldiers at a checkpoint distributed the orders, signed by head of the IDF Central Command Gen. Nitzan Alon.

The orders gave the residents until the end of 2017 to leave the land in question. They also said that soldiers informed the Beit Iksa residents that an IDF liaison would come on Monday to explain which parcels of land would be confiscated.

Beit Iksa village council head Saada al-Khatib told Ma’an that Israeli officials said that a confiscation order was originally given in 2012, and the current orders reiterate the previous one.
The Ma’an report features images it claims show the order itself, as well as maps delineating the areas to be expropriated.

Beit Iksa sits in Area B between the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot and Mevasseret Zion. It has around 1,700 residents.
The village is sensitive for several reasons. It is located less than a kilometer from Route 1, the main artery running from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. In addition, it is surrounded by land purchased by Jews before the establishment of Israel, and captured by Jordan during Israel’s  1948 War of Independence.

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