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In nights of Arab-Jewish violence, memories of October 2000

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Jews and Arabs fighting in the streets. Arab Israelis decrying Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa mosque, against the backdrop of escalating armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

After days of rising violence, Israel’s central cities imploded on Wednesday, with Jewish and Arab mobs engaging in rounds of violence and revenge attacks. Israeli police were nowhere to be found, even as an Arab Israeli man was nearly lynched in Bat Yam and a Jewish Israeli was attacked in Acre. The internecine violence continued Thursday, even though police were alerted, and bolstered by Border Police deployments.

Israel has not seen such widespread unrest between its Arab and Jewish citizens since October 2000, when 13 Arab Israelis were killed by police during violent clashes at the dawn of the Second Intifada.

“The comparison between now and the October 2000 events is the clear one to make, although there are differences,” said Arik Rudnitksy, an expert in Arab Israeli politics.

A man beats a man lying prone on the ground in Bat Yam, amid interethnic violence across Israel, May 12, 2021. (Kan TV Screenshot)

The immediate catalyst then was a visit by Likud opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. The site is revered by Muslims for its Al-Aqsa Mosque; it is Judaism’s holiest place, as the site of the two biblical temples. Sharon’s visit, flanked by Israeli security guards, was viewed by the Palestinians as deeply provocative.

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“I told Sharon not to do it. I warned him what would happen,” claimed Abd al-Malik Dehamsheh, a key player in the October 2000 events, who at the time led the Islamist Ra’am party.

The day after Sharon’s visit, riots broke out in Jerusalem. Israel police responded with live fire, killing four Palestinians. Rage swept through Arab Israel, whose leadership declared a general strike in solidarity.

“It was like the Green Line [between Israel and the West Bank] was erased,” Rudnitsky said.

Over the course of several fateful days, Arab Israelis conducted violent protests that spread nationwide. Thirteen were killed in clashes with police, including with live fire — twelve Arab Israelis and one Palestinian. An Israeli Jew was killed, when his car was stoned by Arab........

© The Times of Israel

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