Twenty-seven police officers and about 10 civilians and Magen David Adom paramedics were injured early Tuesday in clashes which broke out at the Upper Galilee town of Peki'in, following the installation of a cellular antenna in a nearby community.
One of the injured was shot in the stomach by a policeman.
Some 200 police and Border Guard officers arrived at the area early Tuesday and were met with resistance on the part of hundreds of young residents.
Police are expected to launch an investigation into the violent incident. Two main questions are to be looked into: Who instructed the police officers to shoot at the rioters, and how did local residents manage to take a Border Guard policewoman hostage for several hours.
Senior sources in the police's northern district confirmed that the police used when the policewoman was taken away from her fellow police officers.
Chief Superintendent Avi Edri said that the issue would be probed, but added that an initial inquiry revealed that the police officers who fired the gunshots were in danger. The rioters, according to the police, used live ammunition and hurled a frag grenade.
The riots died down in the morning hours, but young masked people were still seen on the town's streets carrying sticks, and some of them set fire to tires at the entrances to the village.
The policewoman, Liat Daoudi, found shelter in the home of a retired police officer who lives in the area. Police forces later managed to get her out of the town with the help of local celrics, in exchange for the release of five local residents arrested earlier.
More than 30 people were evacuated to hospitals in Nahariya and Safed, including a civilian and a police officer who sustained serious wounds.
Three of the injured were MDA paramedics whose car was attacked by dozens of rioters who hurled stones at them. The windows of two ambulances were shattered.
The rioters also set fire to a home owned by a Jewish family. There were no injuries in this incident.
Border Guard policewoman Liat Daoudi. 'Taken hostage' (Photo: Ahiya Raved)
Abdullah Khir, a Peki'in resident, told Ynet before the policewoman's release that the residents were waiting for the detainees to be freed, adding that the policewoman would be held in the town until this took place.
"We are waiting to see if our detainees are released, and then we shall free their detainee. Some 100 women are watching her at our prayer house."
Khir said that the police forces that entered the village Monday night provoked the residents. According to him, they fired gas grenades at the houses. "They were stressed out and started firing bullets at people," he said.
'Police crossed a red line'
Another resident, Iad Mohana, said that "what happened here today is one big act of stupidity on the part of the Israel Police, which decided to intensify the offense and impose order by brining a large force into the village.
"The public in Israel does not need explanations on the nature of the Peki'in residents. We are normative people, we obey the law, we have nothing against the Israel Police, and most of the Peki'in residents are members of the security forces."
According to Mohana, "When the police entered the halwa, which is the Druze's prayer house, a red line was crossed. From that moment, all the residents from all parts of the population united, and this resulted in a great commotion."
Ambulance's windows shattered (Photo: MDA spokesperson)
On Tuesday morning, the police held an evaluation of the situation in the town and senior officers arrived in the area. The police consulted with the town leaders in a bid to reach a truce.
"We reached an understanding with them that the riots would be halted and that all the wanted young men will arrive for questioning," a police source said.
History of violence over cellular antennas
Three days ago, dozens of young local residents set fire to a chicken coop in Peki'in after a cellular antenna amplifier was installed there. During the riots, a hand grenade was hurled at a house in the village. Police launched an investigation into the incident.
Two days earlier, seven young men were arrested after rioting in the area in protest of the antenna installation.
About a year ago, a cellular antenna placed on the roof of a commercial center in Haifa was set on fire. Firefighters reported that the same antenna was sabotaged in the past.
About two years ago, during the holy day of Yom Kippur, two antennas were set on fire near the village of Mghar in the Lower Galilee. Two weeks earlier, antennas were damaged in the nearby village of Eilabun.
About three years ago, angry residents set fire to a number of antennas in the Golan Heights village of Bukata, after one of the residents died of cancer. The residents claimed that the number of cancer patients in the area was on the rise due to the location of the cellular antennas.
In May 2004, a man was murdered in the village of Iblin during an argument with his neighbors over the installation of a cellular antenna in the area.
Liron Milstein and Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report