Police Disperse Unruly Crowd Gathered for Soldier’s Funeral

Police in Ashdod were out in force Monday to curb rioting by Jewish youths, following the funeral of Sgt. Avi Sasportas, presumably kidnapped and murdered by Arabs.

The violence was triggered by the discovery Sunday of the 21-year-old paratrooper’s remains. He was found in a shallow grave near the Gaza Strip, not far from where he was last seen Feb. 16 trying to hitch a ride home on weekend leave.

The discovery was made in the course of a search for another soldier, Ilan Sa’adon, who was last seen hitching a ride to Ashkelon on May 3.

Eight Arab laborers were reportedly attacked and beaten Sunday afternoon and evening by roving bands of youths shouting “death to Arabs.”

Police used smoke grenades to disperse other angry mobs.

At the funeral Monday, Rabbi Meir Kahane of the extremist Kack party was on hand to incite and inflame passions.

Afterwards, more that 50 youths hurled stones at passing Arab cars. An attempt to blockade the main highway to Gaza was promptly thwarted by police.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Sasportas. An honor guard of paratroop sergeants surrounded the grave as a military chaplain led services.

Sasportas’ mother, weeping at the fresh grave, found the strength to thank the thousands who had joined in the search for her son.

Gen. Dan Shomron, the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, said Monday that in virtually all such cases in the past, the assailants were ultimately caught and punished. This time will be no different, he promised.

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