Safed, where violence took place
Photo: Avihu Shapira

Jews, Arabs clash in Safed

Violent outburst follows call by city's rabbis to avoid renting and selling property to Arabs

Police forces in the northern city of Safed launched an investigation Saturday into a confrontation between ultra-Orthodox and Arab college students. No injuries were reported, but property was damaged.


"The place looked like after a pogrom," a Safed resident said. "The police arrived, and since then there have been police cars in the area."


The resident, who did not want to be named, said the violent incident began with an argument between Arab students from Safed College, who rent apartments in the city, and Chabad yeshiva students of American origin.


"They yelled, 'Death to Arabs,' and the others yelled, 'Death to Jews.' Then the fight broke out," he said.


The incident happened close to midnight on Friday, at a pedestrian mall. Superintendent Gadi Ron of the Safed Police Department told Ynet that after the verbal exchange the two sides began throwing stones at each other. The police soon stopped them and took testimonies from eye witnesses, but did not make any arrests.


The police denied any connection between the fight and a proclamation signed earlier this week by Safed rabbis, which called on home-owners to avoid renting or selling apartments to Arab students, and to shun those who do.


"From our point of view, the background for the incident is thuggery," Ron said. "We will continue to investigate until we get to the bottom of it."


The police claimed that there is no escalating tension, but additional officers have been deployed in the city.


Representatives of Safed College responded in a statement saying that the events are unfortunate, and were "caused by extremists from both sides."


"We are working with the authorities to preserve the tolerance and cooperation that have characterized this city and college throughout the years," the statement said.


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פרסום ראשון: 10.23.10, 23:28
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