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Tension, Undercurrent of Hostility Persists in Arab Galilee Villages

Tension and an undercurrent of bitterness and hostility persisted in Arab villages in Galilee today, more than a week after the Communist-precipitated Arab general strike and the bloody riots that accompanied it. Some of the tension is attributed to the fact that scores of villagers, mostly youths, are still in detention awaiting trial for attacking security forces and damaging property during the riots.

Israeli authorities have refused appeals from local elders to release the youths on grounds that the “hotheads” have learned their lesson. The authorities insist that the law must take its course and those found guilty will be punished.

The situation has been aggravated by the attempts of local Arab leaders who had opposed the general strike and violence to re-establish their image among the townspeople and villagers. The village heads in such places as Sakhnin, Arabs and Dier Hanna, scenes of some of the worst rioting last week, are now blaming Israeli security forces for provoking the violence. It was these same leaders. Israeli sources say, who urgently summoned Israeli police to protect them and their property from the rioters.

Zaki Diab, head of the local council in Tamra village, had his car burned by a mob after he tried to calm them during the disturbances. The insurance company refused to pay him for the loss of his car because the policy does not cover riots. The government, however, will compensate Diab from a special fund.

Meanwhile, the child care center at Tamra remains closed because the Jewish physician and nurses refuse to return unless they are given special protection. The clinic was badly damaged by stone-throwing youths. Similar clinics were reopened in other Arab villages after the authorities provided protection for their personnel.

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