Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni / Flash 90
Jaffa (Yafo), March 2020

Israeli-Arabs set fire to a municipal building in Tel Aviv on Friday night as the violence surrounding construction in a vacated, old Muslim cemetery in the area continued.

Rioters threw a bottle containing flammable fluid into the building in Jaffa, causing damage to the site. In other locations, rioters threw rocks, set fire to trash cans, blocked roads and burned tires.


Massive police forces responded with crowd control means.

The riots on Saturday night were less violent.

On Saturday night, police arrested four suspects at their homes on suspicion of being involved in the riots in the city in recent days.

After their questioning, it will be decided whether to bring them for an extension of their detention in court, the police stated.

The US Embassy in Israel on Saturday issued a security alert stating that Embassy personnel have “been advised to maintain situational awareness and avoid the area.”

“The Embassy strongly encourages US citizens to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, as security incidents often take place without warning,” the message said.

The riots, which have been taking place every night for almost a week, were organized by a local Islamic society over the city’s plans to build a hostel for the homeless on a site that was used as a Muslim cemetery over 90 years ago.

The graves have been relocated decades ago for sanitary reasons. The site has been since used as a field by the Jaffa Muslim Football Club, and later by the British Customs for warehouses.

The issue was contested in court, and District Court Judge Avigayil Cohen authorized the municipality to proceed with the construction and ruled that “contrary to the principles laid down by the Islamic Council, constitutional principles are also important: the property owner’s property rights and the public importance of the project – erecting a building for the rehabilitation of street dwellers.”


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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.