In a tough letter sent to President Moshe Katzav, Archbishop Michel Sabah and Catholic leaders in Israel placed the responsibility for their security on Israel’s security forces. In an interview with Haaretz, Sabah said that while Israel stationed an entire army to guard a tiny group of settlers in Hebron, an entire neighborhood in Maghar was almost destroyed without any reaction from the police. Police on Tuesday arrested five Druze men on suspicion of involvement in
violent weekend clashes between Druze and Christians in the mixed village of
Maghar in the Galilee.

Leaders of the Catholic community in Israel said Monday that Israel has
abandoned its responsibility for the security of members of their community.

In a tough letter sent to President Moshe Katzav, Archbishop Michel Sabah
and Catholic leaders in Israel placed the responsibility for their security
on Israel’s security forces.

In an interview with Haaretz, Sabah said that while Israel stationed an
entire army to guard a tiny group of settlers in Hebron, an entire
neighborhood in Maghar was almost destroyed without any reaction from the
police.

Earlier on Monday, police said a 16-year-old Druze boy admitted to spreading
a rumor that sparked the violence, a charge the teen later denied.

Dozens of Christian businesses were burned to the ground, and many Christian
families fled the village during riots that began Thursday evening after a
rumor spread that Christian youths had placed pornographic pictures of Druze
girls on the internet.

After an extensive investigation that included experts on computer-related
crimes, police determined the youth had lied to his friends about the
pictures after he was angered by derogatory marks about Druze made by an
unidentified man with whom he had corresponded by e-mail.

However, the teen said Monday that police were searching for a scapegoat and
wrongly blamed him in an attempt to solve the problems in the village.

“Everything the police said is simply a lie,” he said, adding that he has
many Christian friends.

The youth’s attorney, Zayed Salah, blamed the police for allowing the
situation to get out of control.

“Last Monday the police had already received a complaint from the school
principal regarding the story about the pictures, but didn’t deal with it
appropriately and waited until the rumor took off,” Salah said. “I regret
that the police are trying to solve all the problems of Maghar [by placing
them] on the young shoulders of [my client].”

Police have seized the computers of four people who claimed to have either
seen or received the pictures. An inspection revealed that the pictures were
never on the computers.

The youth was held for questioning in connection with spreading false
information, and police are continuing the investigation with the objective
of locating additional suspects.

Police finished questioning the youth Sunday afternoon, but preferred not to
make the information public due to fears of additional riots. A Northern
Valleys District spokesman said the information was passed on to both Druze
and Christian community leaders.

On Sunday night a large crowd of Druze gathered in the village due to a
rumor that a large number of Christians were gathering in the village and
the surrounding area. The Druze crowd was dispersed by community leaders.

A large police force remained in the village yesterday in order to prevent
further outbreaks of violence.

The violent clashes peaked Saturday afternoon when eight residents of the
village were injured, two moderately and the rest lightly. Three police
officers were also lightly injured Saturday, including Northern Valleys
District commander Yaakov Zigdon, who sustained a leg injury.

Northern District commander Dan Ronen called the violence “a pogrom.”