by Cynthia Blank
Violent clashes Friday night after Muslim youths show solidarity with slain terrorist, while Druze stand with Israel.
Over 41 people were injured in violent clashes that erupted between Druze and Muslims Friday night in the Arab village of Abu Snan in the Western Galilee.
The clashes appeared to be a result of ongoing tensions in Israel between security forces and Arabs in the week since police shot Hir Alhamdan, who lunged with a knife at a police car last Saturday.
The event sparked massive protests, leading the Muslim Arab population all over Israel to demonstrate and riot.
The Druze, however, while also ethnic Arabs, serve in the army and are more integrated into Israeli society, making them reluctant to engage in the protests, thus straining tensions in many mixed Muslim and Druze Arab communities, such as Abu Snan.
Abu Snan has a population of 13,000 residents, with a Muslim majority of 7,000. Some 4,000 locals are Druze and the rest are Christian Arabs.
Both sides threw rocks at one another with Muslim and Druze homes both targeted. Gunshots were also fired in the air, causing shrapnel injuries.
A large number of police force remain in the area Sunday serving as a barricade between Muslim and Druze residents. A police helicopter and forces throughout the Galilee region are serving as backup.
It took the police hours of overnight efforts to finally subdue Friday night's violence, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the rioters. Concern of another flare-up remains.
Reports revealed Saturday night that the roots of the incident began earlier in the week, when two Muslim students entered the Abu Snan high school wearing kaffiyehs to honor Alhamdan.
They were confronted by two Druze students who asked them to remove the scarves. "You have no right to wear that here," they were told. The Druze students then pulled out Stars of David necklaces from under their shirts - worn in solidarity with Druze Border Patrol officer Jedan Assad, who was killed in a terror attack in Jerusalem.
The students began to fight, and the school day was suspended, with both sets of students dismissed early. The tension then began to spread across the community.
On Friday local residents traded curses against Druze and Muslim women on Secret, an anonymous messaging application. In the evening, a Muslim man entered a Druze cafe, claimed another man was slandering his sister on social networks, and stabbed him.
A massive brawl broke out. A Muslim attempted to run over Druze residents with his car before being pulled out and beaten. Eyewitnesses claim that a Druze man threw a fragmentation grenade into the crowd, wounding dozens.
20 people remain hospitalized at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, several in critical condition with head injuries.
Druze MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), one of the participants in attempts to calm the community, has said of the efforts: "Our job is not to know who started it, rather to bring back the peaceful situation before. We are continuing to deal with the issues and make every effort that violence does not blaze again. I hope there will be no reprisals from either side, because it does not sever Druze or Muslims."
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