Israel fears unrest as Jewish, Muslim holy days coincide
AP PhotoIsraeli police are to deploy in extra strength in mixed Jewish-Muslim areas on Saturday, fearful of trouble as the two faiths mark major holy days, police said.
In a rare concurrence of the calendars of the two religions, this year the main Islamic feast of Eid el-Adha falls on the same day as the solemn Jewish fast of Yom Kippur.
While Muslims celebrate with outings to friends and family and feasting, Jews spend 25 hours in prayer and fasting and refrain from driving.
Anyone driving on Yom Kippur is likely to face stone throwing by observant Jews who have even been known to attack Israeli ambulances and police vehicles.
"Police reinforcements will be deployed in all areas where Jews and Arabs live alongside each other, to prevent friction and allow the two communities to observe their holidays without problems," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Monday.
"Regional police commanders will be in touch with political and religious leaders of the two communities to encourage mutual tolerance and respect," she told AFP.
"The police will act with an iron fist against anyone who might engage in provocation, incitement to violence or disturbing public order."
Authorities will be keeping an especially close eye on the ancient port city of Acre in northern Israel, where riots erupted on Yom Kippur 2008 when an Arab resident drove through an observant Jewish neighbourhood blaring music from his car stereo.
A group of Jewish youths assaulted the driver and false rumours of his death brought hundreds of angry Arabs onto the streets in protest, damaging cars and property.
Clashes went on for four days and at least three people were injured.