Fears of Renewed Rioting as Arab Youths Stone Bus on Road 65
While the incessant rocket fire by Hamas terrorists from Gaza has taken the headlines in the past few days, Israeli security officials are still very wary of possible unrest in Israeli Arab towns and villages, and are maintaining an increased presence near communities in northern and central Israel where Arabs rioted last week and over the weekend.
On Thursday, Arab youths threw rocks at an Israeli bus that was traveling along Road 65, a key artery that connects central and northern Israel. Unlike in Judea and Samaria, the buses traveling this route do not have special rock-resistant plastic windows, and when a large rock was thrown at the driver's window, the rock broke through the glass and hit a woman who was sitting in the front row of the bus. The woman was treated by Magen David Adom rescue workers. Police are searching for the culprits.
On Wednesday night police said that Arab youths stoned two other vehicles traveling near villages in the lower Galilee. No one was injured in those incidents. On Wednesday, police arrested seven youths for participating in the weekend riots, bringing the total number of Israeli Arabs arrested for rioting to 126.
Those riots broke out last week after police found the burned body of Mohammed Abu-Khder in a Jerusalem forest. Six Israelis have been arrested in connection with the murder, accused of carrying it out in revenge for the kidnappings and murders of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Sha'ar; three of them have been released but the other three look set to be charged with murder.
Rioting broke out in Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods of Shu'afat and Beit Hanina, and spread into Arab towns and villages in the Galilee in response to the murder.
On Saturday, following Abu-Khder's funeral the previous day, there was extensive rioting in Taibe, Tira and Kalansawa in central Israel, as well as Umm El-Fahm and Ar'ara in the north. Riots later spread to Tamra, in the Galilee, where hundreds of residents hurled rocks and fireworks at security forces who worked hard to prevent them from blocking Highway 70. In Nazareth, about 100 rioted, and large police forces kept them in check.
Ironically, while Israeli Arab rioting tends to target infrastructure and institutions that symbolize Israeli sovereignty, the people who suffer from the vandalism tend to be local Arab residents themselves.
In the wake of the violence and destruction, Jews are expected to stay away from the Arab towns for months on end, in a de facto economic boycott that may have devastating consequences for the towns' economies. Moreover, the destruction of the Jerusalem light rail in Arab neighborhoods by rioters leave many workers cut off from their places of work or forced to travel long distances by foot.