Two goals from Patrick Kluivert earned Newcastle victory in an ill-tempered Uefa Cup clash at St James' Park.
The Dutchman gave the home side the best possible start, taking advantage of confusion in the visitors' defence to fire home inside three minutes.
He bagged his second just before the interval with a powerful header from Laurent Robert's precise corner.
But Newcastle's Nicky Butt and Bnei Sakhnin's Abbass Swan saw red on the hour after an ugly fracas erupted.
Such fireworks never looked likely during a low-key first half which saw Newcastle dominate possession after Kluivert's early strike.
The Dutchman needed little time to justify his inclusion in the starting line-up at the expense of Alan Shearer, producing a textbook striker's finish.
Robert provided the cross from the left which caused problems in the Bnei Sakhnin box and in the ensuing chaos, the Dutchman pounced.
It should have been 2-0 within a minute as Jermaine Jenas broke into space on the left but saw his effort blocked by Zimbabwean keeper Energy Murambadoro.
Newcastle dominated the early stages, and Kluivert was thwarted in his attempt to make it 2-0 as Murambadoro tipped the ball over.
Kluivert was also just wide with a volley on 17 minutes after Robert had cashed in on an error by Rabah.
But the visitors began to play their way into the match, and Newcastle were thankful for Shay Given's reactions as he pushed away a powerful shot from Swan.
At the other end, Murambadoro did well to push over a sweetly struck 25-yarder from Lee Bowyer, while Kieron Dyer sent another incisive Robert cross just over from close range.
There was a sense of frustration among the home fans, but Kluivert eased their nerves on 42 minutes with a simple goal.
The Dutchman powered a header past Murambadoro from Robert's corner and into the net off the bar.
Newcastle began the second half looking comfortable, with Bowyer testing Murambadoro shortly after the break following great work between Kluivert and Dyer.
Kluivert also saw a shot delfected wide as he sought his hat-trick.
But any hopes the home side had of quietly seeing out a comfortable win were ended as tempers flared on the hour mark.
Nicky Butt, who had been on the field for just 133 seconds as a substitute for the injured Dyer, was shown the red card for grabbing Swan - who also received red for his part in the scuffle.
The event fired the crowd into life, but chances were still at a premium although Newcastle still enjoyed the better of the game.
Robert saw a shot blocked and Olivier Bernard had a long-range drive deflected as the match moved into the final 15 minutes, while substitute James Milner forced a good save from Murambadoro.
Bnei Sakhnin offered sporadic threats but never seriously looked like netting the away goal which would have left the second leg in the balance.
Newcastle: Given, Carr, Elliott, O'Brien, Hughes (Bernard 15), Dyer (Butt 58), Bowyer, Jenas, Robert, Ameobi (Milner 69), Kluivert.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Shearer, Bellamy, Ambrose.
Sent Off: Butt (60).
Goals: Kluivert 4, 42.
Bnei Sakhnin: Murambadoro, Kasum (Edri 84), Etchi Oben, Danan, Basem Genaiem (Salameh 80), Elyahu, Soan, Hamud (Cleber 54), Rabbah, Masudi, Agoye.
Subs Not Used: Hilik, Abu Saleh, Khalaila, Shalaata.
Sent Off: Soan (60).
Booked: Rabbah, Soan, Basem Genaiem, Danan, Cleber.
Ref: Antonio Almeida Costa (Portugal).