Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Adding Fuel to the Fire
The demonstrations quickly spread on Friday and Saturday to Judea/Samaria and Gaza, where IDF outposts and Israeli civilians came under attack from stone-throwing youths, as well as gunfire from armed Fatah activists (the "Tanzim") and even PA security forces. With casualties climbing, the two sides seemed close to a cease-fire on Saturday, until a tragic incident ignited the flames further.
In Gaza on Saturday, a French TV crew filmed an Arab man and his frightened 12-year-old son, Rami Aldourah, caught in a cross-fire near Netzarim and huddling behind a small stone wall. A moment later, the boy was seen lying dead in his father's arms, who was also wounded and in shock. An IDF review of the footage has concluded the two were likely hit by IDF fire, but noted that the Israeli forces could not directly see the pair and were returning fire at a Palestinian machine gun nest immediately behind them.
Nonetheless, the incident, shown all over the world, provided Arafat with the public relations fodder he needed to justify carrying on the campaign of violence. "Stop shooting our soldiers, our old people, our youths, our women," Arafat said in a statement. "Get Israeli soldiers out of Palestinian cities and refugee camps."
The tragedy also fueled anger among Israeli Arabs, who took to the streets as well. As the outbreak of violence jumped the "Green Line," Israeli Arab leaders cited the young Gazan's death as a breaking point and declared a strike in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Demonstrations were reported in a number of Arab towns in the North, in the largest civil unrest since the original "Land Day" riots in 1976. The worst of the rioting occured around Nazareth and Umm el-Fahm, where the first reported Israeli Arab death occurred on Sunday. As masses turned out for the funeral of the "holy martyr" on Monday, another Israeli Arab died in the hospital of an earlier head wound and the clashes erupted again.
The widespread disturbances have blocked a number of roads throughout the Galilee. The main inland highway through Wadi Ara, Route 65, which runs through Umm el-Fahm and connects the coastal plain with the Jezreel Valley, has been closed to traffic off and on in recent days. Shots have been fired at Israeli police, a local police station was set alight, and traffic lights and signs have been destroyed. Many of the Israeli Arab protesters chanted "death to the Jews" and "through fire and blood we'll liberate Al-Aqsa."
Nonetheless, Israeli security personnel were under orders to exercise restraint. When shots were fired during a protest march outside Fureidis, near the picturesque town of Zichron Yaacov, police reinforcements arrived at the scene in an attempt to maintain order, fearing the riots would spill over to Highways 2 and 4 - the main Tel Aviv-Haifa highways.
Arab residents of old Jaffa also went on the rampage on Sunday night, burning tires, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, and smashing windows of Jewish businesses and vehicles. Haifa Arabs also took to the streets today.
The important tourist town of Nazareth has been the scene of two days of rioting, looting and vandalism. At the Beit Rimon junction on the Nazareth-Tiberias highway, masked Arab youths threw stones and petrol bombs at border police. An Arab resident of Nazareth was killed this afternoon when police tried to quell disturbances, ISRAEL RADIO reported.
"We are witnessing a grave escalation in the action of extremist elements among Israeli Arabs," Barak noted last night. He differentiated between the majority of the peaceable Arab public and the "extremists."
At today's weekly cabinet meeting, Barak said he has given the IDF chief of staff, police chief and other security services commanders a carte blanche to take whatever steps necessary to maintain law and order throughout Israel and to protect Israeli lives in the territories.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.