Israeli police on alert after worst Arab-Jewish riots in years
Israeli police were on high alert in mixed-community cities Friday after two days of the worst Arab-Jewish clashes in years in the northern port town of Acre, reported dpa.
Acre police arrested at least 11 rioters by late Thursday and planned to press charges against them Friday morning.
Eight people suffered minor injuries. One of them was run over by a police horse, while another was hit in the head by a stone.
Rioters damaged dozens of cars and shop windows in the Roman-built city.
The clashes broke out around midnight Wednesday on the eve of the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday, or Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Hebrew calender.
Israel typically comes to a standstill for Yom Kippur with most shops closing for the day and streets empty of cars. Television and radio stations suspend their broadcasting.
The clashes were sparked by a violent confrontation between a local Jewish crowd and an Arab resident who drove his car through a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood and in an alleged provocation played loud music and smoked.
Both Jewish and Arab gangs later rioted in various areas of the city, and police used teargas and water hoses to disperse the crowds.
Jewish and Arab Israeli legislators strongly condemned the outbreak of violence, calling on local leaders to "show responsibility" and urged a return to coexistence rather than inciting calls for revenge.
Arab-Israeli clashes inside Israel have been extremely rare since October 2000, when Israeli police notoriously shot dead 13 Arab-Israeli youths in northern Israel, during widespread rioting by local Arab Israelis in sympathy with the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising.
An Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry later strongly condemned the police handling of those clashes. Police in Israel were under strict orders not to use live ammunition this time, Israeli media reported.
Acre Police Chief Avi Edri said his forces were on a mission "to restore public order" in the town. "Everyone, show responsibility," he urged on Israel Radio.
The rioting had been made worse because local criminal gangs had been participated in it, he said. "We will get to the last of the rioters and the criminals," he said Friday.