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After killing, Israel’s Arab sector on strike

Police raise alert level in wake of widespread protests over death of Kheir Hamdan, 23, shot dead when he attacked a police car with a knife

Protests in Kafr Kanna November 8, after the killing of a local man by a police officer the night before. (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)
Protests in Kafr Kanna November 8, after the killing of a local man by a police officer the night before. (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

Israel’s Arab sector launched a general strike Sunday, while police geared up for renewed riots after an Israeli Arab man was killed by police on Friday.

Businesses were closed and school was canceled in many Arab-majority towns and villages.

Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino on Saturday decided to raise the national alert level to the second highest level following riots that broke out in Kafr Kanna in response to the killing.

Arab leaders voiced outrage over the police’s conduct in Friday night’s incident, in which police shot and killed Kheir Hamdan, who allegedly attempted to stab officers who were dispatched to arrest a relative of his.

Hamdan was laid to rest Saturday night amid riots against police and protests by thousands of residents of the town. Danino stood by his subordinates, and responded to the “baseless aggression” against police in Kafr Kanna saying, “the police command under my authority gives complete support to the soldiers, officers and volunteers of the Israel Police.”

Screenshot from Panet showing a photo of Khdeir Hamdan, 20, who was shot by police November 7, 2014 during an attempted arrest.
Screenshot from Panet showing a photo of Khdeir Hamdan, 20, who was shot by police November 7, 2014 during an attempted arrest.

Hamdan’s father harshly criticized the conduct of the officers involved in the incident, saying Saturday that the shooter is “not human.”

Speaking to Ynet, Rauf Hamdan said, “They could have fired tear gas at him again or shot him in the leg, but they have no feelings.”

Rauf also said he tried to prevent his son from fighting with police. “That night we sat in the house, me and my son, and suddenly I heard shouts. I went out and saw him unconscious. I took him inside and I understood that police had fired tear gas at him. I went inside to change clothes, and when I came back I couldn’t find him. It turns out he went out to the road, where the cruiser was. I tried to bring him back but I didn’t succeed,” he recounted.

Video of the event showed Hamdan with a knife in his hand as he ran at the police vehicle.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who was urged by demonstrators to resign, called on the public to calm tensions and wait for the results of a police investigation into the officers’ actions, Israel Radio reported.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Unit, an independent government watchdog over the police force, has launched an investigation into the death.

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