Arab residents of Jaffa held a protest Wednesday to protest what they characterized as the "Jewish takeover" of Jaffa.
The rally was held following an alleged incident Sunday where yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba were said to break into the house of an Arab resident and shout at her, "Get out of here, this is not your house, you Arabs are only here temporarily."
Settler sources said they were unfamiliar with the incident. The woman reported the incident to the community police but did not file an official complaint.
The Arab residents view the incident with grave concern. They say hundreds of yeshiva students were in the new park in the Ajami neighborhood, and from there they proceeded to Yefet Street, from where some entered Zeinab Rahiel's home while the rest stood outside shouting insults.
"I was sitting at home with a friend when I saw many young people," she said. "I went into the garden and suddenly two came into the yard and asked defiantly, 'Is this your house?' I answered that it was, and they said Arabs shouldn't be here, and 'this is our land.' I shouted at them and chased them, and they ran away, but continued to stand outside for 40 minutes."
"I was born in Jaffa," Rahiel said. "For years Jews and Arabs lived here, and now those from Kiryat Arba want to hurt us. We are Israeli citizens. Such a thing must not happen to us in our state."
Arab residents of Jaffa demonstrate (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Since then, she added, she received several calls from an unknown number, cursing and threatening to hurt her or her family. "They said, 'get ready, we'll come and butcher you and your family'."
'If Palestinians broke into your house…'
Last year members of the B'Emuna group came to Ajami looking to build homes for young Jews and a yeshiva. The court approved the project, despite opposition from residents. Arabs in the neighborhood say that each week settlers come to parade the streets carrying Israeli flags.
Elderly local residents talk about their fear. "I have an aged neighbor who is scared. She is scared that what they did to her parents in 1948 they'll now do to her," said Yehudith Ilany, Jaffa resident and activist in the Jaffa Popular Committee against housing demolition. "When someone hurts my neighbors he also hurts me."
However, those behind the project reject the claims.
"We are a construction firm," B'Emuna Director Israel Zeira said. "We don't have any men wandering the streets causing chaos.
Zeinab Rahiel at home in Jaffa. (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Sami Abu Shehadeh, Balad secretary in Jaffa and one of the demonstration's organizers, said, "The Israeli public needs to turn the situation around for a moment and imagine if hundreds of Palestinians with Palestinian flags were to come to your home and say you'll be expelled. We need to wake up and understand the significance of establishing a settlement in Jaffa. They haven't even come to live here yet, and we already know what this project will mean for us."
He also criticized the police, and expressed his astonishment that for 40 minutes not even one patrol car came to this central street. "The police didn't ignore this incident by chance. Each week we see similar incidents, with settlers coming to Jaffa shouting insults, and the police don't do anything."
Knesset members took part in the demonstration as well as the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra'ad Salah.
Kobi Nahshoni and Yoav Zitun also contributed to this report