Youssef Albaz, the Imam of Lod, was taken into police custody last night and is being questioned under suspicion of incitement to commit acts of terrorism and violence.
The Regavim Movement filed an official complaint earlier this month, including detailed documentation of Albaz’s inflammatory, racist pronouncements and his explicit calls to his followers to commit acts of terrorism and violence. Last night’s arrest was welcomed by Regavim’s Director General in a statement released early this morning:
“The Regavim Movement applauds the initiation of law enforcement procedures against Youssef Albaz and demands that he be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The horrific violence to which the Jewish residents of Lod were subjected was fueled by the poisonous, antisemitic hate speech spewed by Imam Albaz, a member of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. Albaz’s incitement resulted in spilled blood – the lynching murder of Yigal Yehoshua, dozens of wounded citizens and massive damage to private and public property. The time has come to make Albaz pay the price for his incitement. Better late than never.’
Today (26 May) we participated in an emergency Knesset hearing to discuss the explosion of lawlessness throughout Israel in recent weeks. The hearing, organized by Regavim and MK Amichai Chikli of Yemina, was attended by many Members of Knesset, local leaders, civil organizations, and residents of mixed cities.
In his remarks, Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s Director General, criticized the Police: “Even if we accept that the Police was surprised by these riots, we must not accept that they will be surprised by the next round [of violence].”
“For many years, Regavim has warned that failures in law enforcement against seemingly isolated and unrelated issues – such as illegal construction, protection rackets, drug trafficking, and violence and dangerous behavior on the country’s roads – results in an atmosphere of chaos and the erosion of governance. Where there is no governance, there is anarchy, and almost inevitably – full scale war that threatens the existence of the State.
“The anarchy that began in Jerusalem with lynches, rock and incendiary attacks and vandalism, spread to blocking of roads from the north to the south of the country, and then to attacks against Jewish residents in mixed neighborhoods [where Arabs and Jews live side-by-side]”.
Deutsch said that he came to Lod at the beginning of the riots, answering calls for help from regular citizens whose lives had been turned upside down and were now under threat. Regavim suspended normal operations to focus its energies and expertise on Lod, purchasing equipment to protect besieged residents and the volunteers who came to their aid, and setting up a ‘situation room’ to answer hundreds of calls for help and thousands of offers of assistance that poured in from around the country.
“Every IDF soldier knows that every training exercise, and certainly every operational incident, is immediately followed up with an internal investigation; this is how we learn, how we improve our preparedness and our operational capabilities. It’s how we learn the lessons necessary to do better next time. For the first 72 hours of the riots, the Police did not function, and Lod residents, whose lives were at serious risk, were left to protect themselves, by themselves. Then volunteers came from all over the country to help, and only then did the Police step in.
“Even if the Israel Police did not anticipate riots of this sort or this magnitude, what are they doing to learn the lessons that will prevent a recurrence? Where is the self-examination by the Police, the Minister of Public Security, the Prime Minister? As things now stand, the next outburst of violence is only a matter of time”.
Deutsch called on the government to formulate a comprehensive and adequately-funded plan to restore law and order and to bring governance to the Negev, the Gallil, and cities throughout Israel through equal and universal enforcement of the law.
For over a week, the Jewish state has been under attack: Alongside incessant rocket fire by the Hamas terror group in Gaza, a wave of domestic Arab terror has swept across Israel. Years of poor governance and a lack of enforcement have served as a breeding ground for Arab riots, antisemitic pogroms and a wave of terror against Jews in mixed cities – from north to south.
The extent and magnitude of these events caused Regavim to suspend our other activities, and to focus our efforts on helping the residents of Lod , where Jewish residents have been victims of violent attacks, synagogues, schools, homes and vehicles have been burned, and public and private property destroyed.
Together with residents of Lod and My Israel (‘Yisrael Sheli’), Regavim quickly set up a ‘situation room’ that worked round the clock. Volunteers helped us respond to the urgent calls of residents of Lod, Ramle and other mixed cities, and to organize thousands of volunteers who called in and offered to help: medics, drivers, armed ex-officers, caregivers, & more.
Regavim purchased crucial equipment to support this important mission: cameras to document the situation, medical equipment, protective gear, computers for the situation room, and more.
Like everything we do at Regavim, none of this is possible without your support. We invite you to take part in covering the extensive costs, and to aid the ongoing Zionist struggle to insure a safe, secure Jewish future in our homeland.
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