ACRE, Israel (AFP) – Jewish protestors torched two houses belonging to Arab families in the northern Israeli port town of Acre overnight following three days of violent clashes, Israeli public radio reported on Saturday.
In another part of town police used tear gas and noise-making devices to disperse several hundred Jews who tried to attack an Arab family, it said, adding that no one was wounded in either incident.
Israel’s police spokesman could not be reached to confirm the report, which came as the country was shut down for the weekly Jewish Sabbath.
Over 700 police patrolled the coastal town of 50,000 people on Saturday, a police commander told public radio, after riots erupted three days ago on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Israeli police said the clashes broke out when an Arab resident drove through a conservative Jewish neighbourhood blaring music from his car stereo.
A group of Jewish youths assaulted the driver, accusing him of deliberately making noise and disrupting the sanctity of Yom Kippur, when most Jews in Israel observe a religious ban on driving.
Hundreds of Arabs took to the streets shortly thereafter, damaging around 100 cars and 40 shops, according to the police.
In following days Jewish and Arab rioters clashed with each other and with police. Two protestors and a police officer have been slightly wounded and around 30 people have been arrested since the violence broke out.
On Friday, Israeli leaders called for calm from both sides as hardline Jewish and Arab MPs traded accusations of blame for the violence.
Arabs with Israeli citizenship, the descendents of those who remained in the Jewish state after the 1948 war that followed its creation, make up around 20 percent of the Israeli population.