'Wherever there is a police station, there is more violence'

1,000 protesters rally in Umm al-Fahm, Qalansawe after deadly double shooting

Cops block streets in northern city to prevent protesters getting close to police station; demonstrator in central town blames double murder on police inaction

Protestors rally against violence in Arab communities, March 19, 2020 (Screen grab/Kan)
Protestors rally against violence in Arab communities, March 19, 2020 (Screen grab/Kan)

Over a thousand people rallied on Friday in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm and the central town of Qalansawe where two men were shot dead in the early hours of the morning.

The demonstrations came a day after some 2,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, calling for an end to violence in Arab communities.

The protest in Umm al-Fahm marked the tenth week that protesters have gathered to demonstrate against violence in the Arab community and what they charge is police and government inaction on the matter.

In the week since the last protest, in addition to the two killed in Qalansawe, a man was killed on Sunday near his home in a shooting in the Arab town of Tira.

Protesters in Umm al-Fahm carried posters highlighting the killing last week of teenager Muhammad Abdelrazek Ades in a shooting in the town of Jaljulia in which another boy was also seriously wounded.

A protester holds an image of Muhammad Abdelrazek Ades at a Tel Aviv protest against surging crime and violence in Arab communities, March 13, 2021 (Flash90)

Cops blocked streets surrounding the police station in the city to prevent protesters from getting close.

A second rally took place in Qalansawe where two men were shot and killed in the central city in the early hours of Friday. A further two people were also wounded in the incident — one was in moderate condition while the other was classified as lightly injured and released from the hospital.

Muhammad Khatib (R) and Leith Nasra (L), who were both killed in Qalansawe on March 19, 2021. (Courtesy)

The fatalities were identified as Leith Nasra, 19, and Muhammad Khatib, the 20-year-old nephew of the director-general of the Qalansawe Municipality who was shot and seriously wounded while sitting in his car earlier this month. However, the Kan public broadcaster said the two shooting events were not believed to be connected.

The Kan public broadcaster said the victims were known to police and an initial probe found the shooting was part of a dispute between criminals. Police have opened an investigation.

One of the protesters in Qalansawe, who gave his name only as Abed, told the Walla news site that the city was on edge since the killings, and that many blamed inaction by the police.

“Everything here is rage and nerves now, a disgusting and difficult day,” he said. “They know where there are weapons, but the police do not want to do their job. Why are the police not chasing the killers? There have been so many casualties since the start of the year — wherever there is a police station, there is more violence.”

Police operate in Qalansawe following a deadly shooting that killed Leith Nasra on March 19, 2021. (Screenshot: Ynet)

The 26 Arabs who have died violently this year in Israel include 20 Arab Israeli citizens, four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and two Palestinians from the West Bank. Three were shot by police, the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit said.

Ending the spread of violence and organized crime is a major priority for Arab Israelis and the focus of recent mass protests.

In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.

More than 90 percent of shootings in Israel last year took place in Arab communities, according to police. Arab Israelis account for around one-fifth of the country’s population.

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