Syria Says Violence in Acre is Israeli Bid to Drive Arabs Out

October 15, 2008 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

Hezbollah on Tuesday hailed the actions of Israeli
Arabs in clashes that erupted last week in Acre as “heroic” resistance
against “barbaric” assaults by Jewish residents.


In a statement the group released, it hailed the
“Heroic resistance aimed at protecting land and honor… [from] the
violent and barbaric assaults by the Zionists.”

The violence in the mixed northern city began Wednesday when an
Arab resident drove into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the
city on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, during which Israelis across
the country refrain from driving.

Outraged at what they described as a deliberate
provocation, the Jewish residents assaulted the driver, sparking riots
that raged in the city for five days.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government on Tuesday condemned Israel over
the clashes, saying the violence was an Israeli attempt to drive the
Arabs out of the mixed city.

The official newspaper of the Syrian government Tishrin published a notice Tuesday, saying “Israel is trying to frighten the Arabs in efforts to drive them out.”

“This is additional proof that Israel hates Arabs and wants to
‘purify’ its territory from all Arab presence,” the newspaper argued.

In addition to the notice, the newspaper, which reflects the
platform of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, published a column
Tuesday attacking Israel over its role in the riots. “The events in
Acre underscore the spreading of racism on Israel’s streets, and they
refute any claim that Israel is the cradle of democracy,” senior
columnist Omar Jaftaly wrote.

Israeli Arab MKs slam arrest of Arab driver who sparked riots

Also Tuesday, Israeli Arab lawmakers voiced harsh criticism on
Tuesday over the arrest of Tawfik Jamal, the Arab man who drove into a
predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Acre on Yom Kippur sparking the 5
days of violence between Jews and Arabs in the city.

Jamal was arrested on Monday on suspicions of “harming religious
sensitivities, speeding and reckless endangerment” in connection to the
violence.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) told Israel Radio on Tuesday that the
arrest was an unreasonable police decision that will not contribute to
calming the violence. He added that the arrest lacked legal
justification and that it represented a capitulation to Jewish
hooligans.

Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh also condemned the arrest,
saying it aimed to appease right wing extremists. Barakeh stated it was
MK Effie Eitam (National Union – National Religious Party) who demanded
the arrest after having inquired during a meeting of the Knesset
Internal Affairs Committee Sunday why the driver was still roaming
free.

“The police abused a lynch victim while protecting gangs of
extremist settlers” Barakeh said, demanding the driver’s immediate
release.

On Monday, an Acre court extended Jamal’s remand by three days, pending further investigation.

On Sunday, Jamal told the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee that
he would “sacrifice his neck” to bring coexistence back to the
bi-national northern city.

“If what I did caused this, I am ready to sacrifice my neck right
here on this table, on lowered gallows, just to return peace and quiet
back to the city of Acre, to bring co-existence back to its place.

Jamal said that contrary to the accusations brought against him, he
had not been drunk nor playing loud music when he entered the Jewish
neighborhood last Wednesday. “I just wanted to go home, I made a
mistake and tried to ask for forgiveness. This has been a harrowing
experience,” he said.

Jamal went on to say that he had been one of the founders of a
community co-existence committee in Acre: “We invented co-existence,”
he said. “They have made me out to be a murderer, they’ve turned me
into a fascist. We are not Nazis, we are not fascists.”

Jamal’s comments sparked a dispute between right-wing and Arab
lawmakers, including mutual accusations of fanning the flames. Others
called for calm and coexistence.

“We must not be dragged into conflict and the chase for political
achievements,” MK Reuven Rivlin said. “We should see how to live
together.”

Nineteen legislators met for the urgent debate, and called on the
state to compensate Acre residents whose homes, businesses or cars were
damaged in the five days of violent riots. Internal Affairs Committee
chair Ophir Pines-Paz noted the 2005 precedent in the village of
Maghar, following clashes between Druze and Christian residents.
Artists harmed by the cancellation of the Acre Fringe Theater Festival
also called for compensation.

“We call on the police to act decisively against those who took the
law into their own hands and fanned the riots both with incitement and
violence,” Pines-Paz said.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit announced following the meeting
that the ministry would allocate NIS 1 million to the city to repair
damages from the riot.

Source: Haaretz.com

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