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Israeli Jews and Arabs Clash in Acre for Fourth Day


Ethnic violence has rocked a mixed Jewish-Arab city in Israel for a fourth day. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israeli Jews and Arabs clashed again in the historic port city of Acre, despite the deployment of 700 police. Trouble began when crowds of Jews and Arabs gathered in a neighborhood and threw stones at each other. Police quickly moved in.

They dispersed the crowds using tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades.

Later on, Jews set fire to two Arab homes. There were no serious injuries; 12 people were arrested.

Riots first erupted on Wednesday, during Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Though it is customary not to drive on the holiday, an Arab drove through a Jewish neighborhood with music blaring and was attacked by angry residents. As word spread about the incident, Arabs took to the streets, vandalizing Jewish-owned cars and shops.

Israeli-Arab Cabinet Minister Raleb Majadele appealed for calm. "We cannot allow thugs to disrupt life in Acre," Majadele told Israel Radio. He called on the police to restore order so that the two peoples, Jews and Arabs, can coexist in peace.

The port city of Acre was once the Crusader capital of the Holy Land, and today, it is one of the few cities in Israel with a mixed Jewish and Arab population. Jews and Arabs generally get along, but the riots are a reminder of a deep cultural and religious divide in the State of Israel.

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