Friday evening saw violent riots after a Jewish man, his Christian wife, and their daughter entered the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth disguised as pilgrims and threw firecrackers. By Saturday morning, calm prevailed in the town.
Saturday afternoon, the Arab-Israeli Supreme Monitoring Committee, including Knesset members, municipal officials, and representatives of the country's Christian community convened to discuss the events.
At the opening of the session, Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi wondered "why is it that when radical Jews go crazy they burn a mosque or blow up a church?"
Tibi did not wait for an answer and remarked: "We're talking about a serious disease of racism and hatred towards both Muslim and Christian Arabs."
"In the State of Israel there's a unique disease that hurts only right-wingers and causes them to attack mosques, churches, and the Arab public," he said. "The disease is not known in the world and I, as a doctor, haven't encountered throughout my history."
Knesset Member Taleb el-Sana, meanwhile, suggested turning to the U.N. to protect Arab Israelis, accusing the government of "responsibility for the despicable act in Nazareth."
"The government always claims (Jewish) attackers are mentally unstable," el-Sana concluded.
Nazareth protest (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Meanwhile, thousands of Arabs embarked on a protest March in Nazareth at 3:00 p.m. Saturday to protest Friday's events. Before the march, organizers and the police agreed to avoid any police presence in the town until the march ends.
Following the march, about 4,000 people took part in a protest rally.
Most participants in the protest were teenagers, members of women's movements, and organizations representing different religions. Sheikh Raad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, said the incident at the church constituted an attempt to hurt as many innocent civilians as possible.
"We reject the police version this was a minor incident," he said. "I received information that the attacker visited a nearby mosque earlier and noticed there were no worshippers there. He chose the church in order to harm people, and the responsibility for this lies with national leaders and the Israeli establishment."
Angry protesters (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, meanwhile, chose to attack Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra: "Minister Ezra is constantly busy with mudslinging and a campaign of incitement against us while trying to undermine our legitimacy."
"When will the Israeli government finally do what it's tasked with doing instead of embarking on a pilgrimage to Nazareth and offering apologies to Christian leadership around the world?" Bishara said.
Knesset Member Muhammad Barakeh also had much to say: "I wish to warn against the next crime in the Arab street on the part of far right crazies. The question is not who did it, but rather, who's next in line."
"The responsibility is placed on the Israeli government, which must do everything in its power in order to stop the radical Right," Barakeh said.
Hagai Einav, Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Roee Nahmias contributed to the story