Arson, Firebombs, Rocks and Rockets: 48 Hours of Terror Across Israel (VIDEO)
Israelis over large swaths of the country underwent a harrowing weekend of Arab violence, sparked, in part, by the killing of an Arab youth in Jerusalem last Wednesday by a group of suspected Jewish extremists.
Israelis were assailed by violent expressions of anger; by Arab rioters in Wadi Ara in the Lower Galilee who stoned public buses, to motorists caught and dragged from vehicles near Nazareth, which were then torched, to massive rioting in Jerusalem, to poolside Kassam rocket alerts near Gaza.
“A scary moment just now,” one bus passenger traveling from Safed to Jerusalem wrote Saturday night:
“…with my wife and two daughters and a bus full of Hasidim… when at ‘Ara junction in Wadi Ara our bus is pelted with rocks by Arab youth wearing keffiyahs. Four windows shatter, scattering glass on terrified passengers,”Eliyahu McLean wrote on his Facebook page.
“A Hasid yells ‘everyone on the floor’ we crouch down with our kids, a lit molotov cocktail makes it into the bus onto the seat of a woman and child on their way to Rebbe Nachman in Uman… a quick thinking Hasid puts it out before any harm can be done,” he wrote.
“When we pull over on Hwy. 6 to switch buses, not one shout for revenge… the young Haredi men and I dance in a circle and sing niggunim of thanks to G-d, such as ‘Tov L’Hodot Lashem u’lzamer l’shimcha elyon’…,” he noted.
Passengers on the regular Ma’ale Adumim – Jerusalem run had a similar experience, coming under volleys of stones hurled by Arab youth. The terrified bus passengers ducked as barrages of rocks smashed into their vehicle:
In the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter in the capital’s Old City, residents woke to find swastikas spray painted outside their homes:
To the southwest, close to the Gaza Strip, bathers at the pool at Merhavim fled in panic as sirens wailed and rockets exploded in the distance:
The IDF says rocket crews in the coastal enclave have pummeled Israelis with 150 rockets and mortars since the start of Operation Brother’s Keeper, a manhunt to find three high school students who were believed kidnapped by Hamas on June 12. The bodies of the three, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel, and Gilad Shaar, were discovered 18 days later not far from the point of their abduction in Gush Etzion. Investigators said they were killed soon after they were kidnapped.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of his government’s weekly cabinet session on Sunday morning that the state was “working on several fronts simultaneously to cope with the rash of incessant attacks.”
“Overnight we were active against many Hamas targets in Gaza and the goal of all of our operations is to restore quiet and security to all of Israel’s citizens, especially the residents of the south,” the PM said.
“Experience proves that at such times we must act responsibly and with equanimity, not hastily. We will do whatever is necessary to restore quiet and security to the south.”
Netanyahu also noted that security forces “took determined action against disturbances in Jerusalem and in Arab communities. We are taking a tough line against anyone who breaks the law and against inciters from whatever side. There is no place in the State of Israel for stone-throwing at police, throwing firebombs, blocking roads or destroying property, or incitement against the very existence of the State of Israel.”
Asserting that “This rope cannot be held from both ends,” Netanyahu said rioters “cannot benefit from National Insurance payments and child allowances on the one hand and, on the other, violate the most basic laws of the State of Israel.”
“I call on the leaders of the Arab public to show responsibility and come out against the wave of disturbances in order to restore quiet. Whoever does not abide by the law – will be arrested and punished severely,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.