Some used beach umbrellas to pry loose paving stones to throw. An Arab bicyclist was beaten, blood streaming from his face, until the police intervened.
The anti-Arab attack inside Israel was the worst seen in the country since the first week of October, just a few days into the Palestinian uprising that has killed about 600 people.
MOSQUE TARGETED BEFORE
The same mosque, the most prominent Arab structure in Tel Aviv, was also a target in last fall's unrest. Yesterday, at least 11 people were injured and taken to the hospital, including police officers.
Some of the Israelis said they had heard the suicide bomber had hidden in the mosque before the attack. But most were expressing an anger that has been building over eight months of increasingly frequent Palestinian attacks on civilians. Police said there were four other major bombing attempts inside Israel in the week before Friday's attack.
"We need to kill the Arabs and burn down this place. A good Arab is a dead Arab," said Zuri Levy, 16. "[Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon should go to Gaza with helicopters and planes and blow [Palestinian leader Yasir] Arafat away."
Levy was at a nearby disco before the bombing. "I saw terrible things. People cut in half. Young people, my age. So much blood. You don't forget."
Yesterday's skirmish was a surreal scene for Tel Aviv, a city that prides itself on its easy-going Southern California atmosphere. Teenage girls in bikinis and children with ice cream cheered the protesters. Tourists on balconies of the Intercontinental Hotel watched in disbelief.
SOME CONDEMN THE ATTACK
Some Israelis who had come to Tel Aviv to enjoy the beach expressed displeasure.
"I never saw anything like this in my life. I wouldn't have thought it could happen in Tel Aviv," said Adi Shimri, 55, a Tel Aviv businessman. "These people [throwing stones] are troublemakers. Most Israelis wouldn't behave like this. But the government has to take control. If they don't, the people will take matters into their own hands."
But many Israelis expressed understanding for the mayhem.
"We are Jewish. We are not supposed to stoop to the level of the Arabs and throw stones," said Isaac Becker, 25. "We should be better than that. But people are angry."
Hundreds gathered across town at the Defense Ministry during a cabinet meeting yesterday to voice anger and urge retaliation against the Palestinians.
Many blamed Sharon for not living up to his election promise to restore security in the country through tough deterrence operations.
But others rejected the notion of an escalation of the violence.
"I hope Sharon doesn't do something crazy. This is no time to be playing cowboys and Indians," said David Goodman, 26, a management consultant. "Sharon needs a contingency plan to get back to the bargaining table."
Barbara Demick's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.