Lankry - 'Arrest anyone who incites'
Photo: Vadim Daniel
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Akko riots
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Akko riots resume, mayor demands firmer police hand

Violence threatens to paralyze city's streets for fourth consecutive night since Yom Kippur, Mayor Lankry rejects gesture of condemnation from Arab leaders, demands police take action to end ongoing public disturbance

The series of violent riots that erupted on Yom Kippur evening in Akko resumed on Saturday evening for the fourth consecutive day.


As night fell the clashes between the city's Jewish and Arab residents erupted once more, with both sides hurling rocks towards the others' homes and businesses. Three people were lightly wounded. Police have thus far arrested 10 rioters.


An Arab house was set on fire, and an initial investigation into the arson indicates it was set ablaze by Jewish rioters wielding a Molotov cocktail.


Firefighters were alerted to the scene and are currently battling the flames.


Police already deployed in the city are working to disperse the crowd. The eastern entrance to the city has been blocked in an effort to prevent vehicles from getting caught in the crossfire.


However Akko Mayor Shimon Lankry is less than impressed with their efforts.


"If police employ a heavy-handed approach, the riots in Akko would be over very quickly," he said following a meeting with police brass earlier in the evening. Police Commissioner Dudu Cohen and Commander Shimon Koren, who heads the force's northern district, vowed to take a firm stance against the rioters.


But Lankry said the police have it wrong. "They have this erroneous belief that there shouldn't be too many arrests. Only 30 people have been taken into custody since the riots began, that's just not enough. You have to arrest anyone who incites, anyone who raises their hand (in violence).


"It's inconceivable that 200-300 enraged and barbarous people are preventing 50,000 from living in peace," the mayor said. "If the necessary arrests are made, we won't need 700 police officers here anymore."


Lankry was dismissive of the recent announcement made by Akko's Arab leaders in condemnation of the

motorist who drove through a Jewish neighborhood on the eve of Yom Kippur, instigating the riots.


"So what if they slam the driver? We denounce all violence, of any kind and from any side," he said.


However Lankry later told Ynet he appreciated the gesture. "I'm happy the Arab leadership condemned the incident. It was a very grave occurrence that had never before taken place in this city, and so it indeed demanded their denouncement. Anyone who commits an act that offends the public should be subject to condemnation and even prosecution," the mayor said.


He explained his earlier comment by insisting he was not informed which condemnation was being discussed.  


Commissioner Cohen said the primary concern for police troops at the moment was protecting lives – "and so far we've met that challenge successfully."


Cohen said that while police would continue to engage local leaders to try and restore the calm, the police would continue to deploy reinforcements to deal with the rioters "with forceful determination."


פרסום ראשון: 10.11.08, 21:16
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