Sharon Roffe-ofir
October 27, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3975691,00.html

Northern District Police Commander Shimon Koren said Wednesday following the violent clashes in the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm that the police forces, some of them members of special units, "acted with determination and courage while risking their lives."

The forces left the town in the afternoon hours as the riots came to an end.

Four policemen were lightly injured in the clashes with Arab residents hurling stones at the police forces securing a right-wing protest against the Islamic Movement.

Knesset Members Hanin Zoabi (Balad) and Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) were lightly injured by stun grenades. Nine stone throwers were detained, and according to Commander Koren, additional arrests are expected.

"The police forces were attacked with stones with the intention of preventing the legal demonstration. After the stones thrown put the officers' life in danger, I ordered them to use crowd dispersal means in accordance with the law," the district commander explained.

"I hereby declare that if anyone tries to hurt any policemen or passersby, we'll disperse those rioters with the means at our disposal," he clarified.

Commander Koren claimed that the police never objected to the rightist protest. "The protestors themselves were the ones who led us to the High Court, asking to improve the location of the protest by 50 meters (164 feet), and to that we objected. We objected to them holding the demonstration inside Umm al-Fahm for the reason of public danger."

According to Koren, some 1,000 policemen took part in securing the protest, not only in Umm al-Fahm, but also in Wadi Ara and other points of friction in northern Israel.

"We estimated that this would be the extent of the disturbances and we were well prepared. I don't see any future ramifications at this time," he concluded.

MK: Police threw a stone at us
Knesset Member Zoabi, who was injured from a stun grenade during the clashes, received medical treatment in a local clinic. MK Aghbaria, who was evacuated to the Emek Medical Center in Afula, said that "the injury in my leg only strengthens my determination to protest against the racism and fascism prevailing in this state."

Aghbaria said he was injured while standing among the Arab protestors, who were joined by left-wing activists and Neturei Karta representatives.

"I was 200 meters away from the police forces. It hurt so much that I couldn't stand up and fell on the floor. My assistants helped me up and moved me aside," he recounted.

Aghbaria, a doctor, said he spotted a large hemorrhage in his ankle. "It looked like a stun grenade injury, not a bullet injury, but I'm in a lot of pain and my leg is swollen, and I fear I may have a fracture."

According to the MK, the police forces are to blame for the heated atmosphere. "If it wasn't for the police, who prepared a provocation in advance, it would all have ended peacefully," he claimed.

"I saw disguised policemen storming the crowd and them throwing a stone, and before we knew what was happening the police began responding and firing at the people from close range."

In an interview to Ynet on Tuesday night, Aghbaria turned to the police forces and asked them to prevent clashes. "Unfortunately, they didn't listen to me. They are to blame," he said Wednesday morning.


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