Arab leaders plan protests throughout October over police inaction on violence
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Arab leaders plan protests throughout October over police inaction on violence

Hundreds rally on Saturday; organizers readying to set up protest tents outside government offices at month’s end

Arab Israelis protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings among their communities, Majd al-Krum, October 3, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Arab Israelis protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings among their communities, Majd al-Krum, October 3, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Hundreds of Arab Israelis demonstrated Saturday at several locations in the country, as they continue their days-long protests against violence and murders within Arab communities.

The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, the umbrella body of Arab Israeli organizations, announced plans for ongoing protest actions, including a convoy of vehicles from communities in the north and south that would head toward the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Mass protests are planned for October 21 and 27 outside police headquarters in Nazareth and Ramle, respectively. On the 27th, organizers plan to set up protest tents outside government offices in the capital.

On Friday thousands demonstrated, blocking roads, including sections of major highways in the north of the country. Demonstrators carried signs, saying “our children’s blood is not cheap,” and chanted slogans about what they say is police inaction on the issue.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List alliance of the main Arab-majority parties in country, called on the Jewish community to join the protests, saying that a society without weapons should be the ideal for everyone.

Thousands of Israeli Arabs protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings within their communities, in the Arab town of Majd al-Krum, northern Israel. October 3, 2019. (David Cohen/FLASH90)

MK Yousuf Jabareen of the Joint List, who joined protesters blocking a highway in the north of Israel, said that the protests will continue until tangible action is taken on the issue.

The protests Saturday followed Thursday’s demonstrations and a general strike throughout the Arab community.

The 13 newly elected members of the Joint List did not attend the swearing-in at the Knesset on Thursday due to the strike. The faction has made improving public safety one of its top priorities.

Police say there have been more than 70 killings in Arab communities this year, nearly as many as in each of the past two years, when Arabs, who are 20 percent of the general population, made up more than half of all murder victims nationwide. Earlier this week, two brothers and a third individual were killed in a brawl involving guns and knives in Majd al-Krum.

Arab leaders say the Israel Police largely ignore the violence in their communities, everything from family feuds and mafia turf wars to domestic violence and so-called honor killings.

The police adamantly reject the allegations of indifference and say they are doing everything they can to stem the violence. They say local leaders need to do more to cooperate with police and to prevent violence.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday he would hold an emergency meeting with police leaders.

“The level of violence and crime in Arab communities requires a determined fight with every tool at the state’s disposal,” Erdan, whose ministry oversees police, said in a statement.

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