Tensions Reported Between Druze, Muslims Over Waffling Condemnation of Attack

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Faham. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Police over the weekend arrested eight people in the Arab town of Umm el-Faham, the hometown of the three terrorists who killed Israeli police officers Ha’il Satawi and Kamil Shanan, members of the Druze community, in a terror attack in Yerushalayim Friday. Speaking to Army Radio Sunday, Yerushalayim police official Yoram Levy said that police had discovered “knives, clubs and bats, stun guns, material for incitement, and smoke bombs” in the homes of the families of the terrorists, as well as in other places. Police have yet to find weapons, however. “There were attempts to stop us from searching, but all those who interfered were arrested as well,” he added.

Saturday saw a mass police presence in Umm el-Faham, as police widened their investigation of the terror attack conducted Friday by Muhammad Jabrin, 29, Muhammad Abd-Allatif Jabrin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdel Jabrin, 19 – all relatives from Umm el-Faham. Police on Friday demolished the mourning tent for the three that had been set up by their families, and arrested the parents of the terrorists.

Residents of the town and relatives of the terrorists claimed ignorance on prior knowledge of their actions, and shock over what they did. One of the terrorists’ relatives told Yisrael Hayom that “our children were never involved in violations of the law. They were good boys. It is difficult for us to explain or understand what happened.” Another relative said that it was “difficult for us to accept this. They were good students, and always avoided getting in trouble. They had plans for the future, and were planning to study engineering and even medicine. None of them ever spoke about radical Islamic ideas, and none of them were particularly religious. These actions are against our worldview.”

Meanwhile, tensions grew over the weekend between Israeli Arabs and the Druze sector, as the latter steamed over the failure of Israeli Arabs to issue a condemnation of the terror attack earlier than Saturday afternoon, Ha’aretz reported. Members of the United Arab List were unable to come to an agreement on a single statement of condemnation, and issued several different statements, representing the different factions (Balad, Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al) that make up the list. MKs Ahmed Tibi and Osama Wasadi, representing Ta’al, said that “the use of arms in the struggle has never been part of our non-violent efforts. We reject violance of any type, especially in our holy places.” MKs from the Ra’am faction said that while they rejected violence as well, “Al-Aqsa and East Jerusalem are occupied territory, and Israel is responsible for the tension there.”

The Arab Higher Committee, meanwhile, said in a statement that “the Arabs have been struggling for 69 years in a legitimate popular uprising. Any diversion from this legitimate struggle does not serve the interests of the Arab public, and the Arab public rejects these actions.” Commenting on the Committee’s statement, Rafik Halaby, the head of the Daliat Al-Carmel local council, populated mostly by Druze, said that he was “ashamed” of the response. “This statement is full of unclear ideas, and we do not see a clear condemnation of the attack.” With that, he stressed that the Druze had no dispute with the Muslims.