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Olmert calls for crackdown on Acre violence

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The car of a Jewish resident was torched as violence continued for a fifth day in the mixed Jewish-Arab Israeli city of Acre.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday “instructed the police to show zero tolerance and bring about a cessation of the violence” in the northern city of 53,000.

The riots started on Yom Kippur eve, Oct. 8, when an Arab man drove through the Jewish sector of the city and was confronted by Jewish youths who said he was deliberately desecrating the holiday by driving, smoking and playing loud music.

The ensuing riots between Jewish and Arab youths have resulted in extensive damage to property in Acre. A large police presence continues to patrol the city’s Arab and Jewish sectors.

On Saturday three Arab-owned homes were torched, making a total of 12 since the riots began. At least 54 people have been arrested since Oct. 8. Water cannons have been used to disperse the rioters.

Also on Saturday night, Arab leaders in Acre agreed to issue an announcement condemning the Arab driver whose actions touched off the riots.

Meanwhile, an Acre theater festival scheduled for this week, which brings in thousands of visitors from outside the city, has been postponed. The festival provides an economic boon for city merchants, particularly Arab ones.

Other mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel, including Jaffa, Jerusalem and Haifa, are on alert for disturbances.

 

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