Jaffa vandalism prompts tighter security

Oct. 10, 2011 at 11:46 AM
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JAFFA, Israel, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Israeli police, investigating anti-Arab vandalism of Christian and Muslim graves in two cemeteries in the port city of Jaffa, pledged to improve security.

Haaretz reported Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino met with leaders of Jaffa's Christian and Muslim communities Sunday and said the force has been working to "bolster policing and service in Arab communities."

"We view the incident that took place here as a grave one," Danino said. "The incident will be dealt with at the highest level. We'll make every effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Our top people will be devoted to this matter. I ask the community to continue to aspire to coexistence and a shared life while upholding law and order."

The meeting came after vandals smashed headstones and spray-painted slogans such as "Death to Arabs" and "price tag" in the cemeteries on Yom Kippur and threw a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue.

Jaffa leaders said Arabs felt threatened and some feared they would be attacked while heading to prayers at local mosques.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai also met with leaders of Jaffa's Arab community Sunday.

"Our job as public figures is to sit together and resolve the issues, as we have invested enormous efforts in recent years in maintaining life as usual here," he said. "The Jaffa public was always more mature than all the extremists, and we'll find a way to return to normal, despite the provocations."

Sheik Saliman Setel, who heads the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, called the meeting positive.

"For now, the situation is calm; there's nothing special happening," he said. "We don't want this to be temporary. Such things happen every year or two, and it's not acceptable to anyone. We live in coexistence; we don't want problems. Just as we respect everyone's holy sites, we want others to respect our holy sites."

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