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Arab politicians, mayors block major highways in protest of community crime

Convoy heading for Jerusalem stops traffic on main roads in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, to highlight alleged inaction against violence in Arab locales

Arab politicians, mayors and others block Route 6 in protest of rampant violent crime within the community, October 28, 2021. (Joint List)
Arab politicians, mayors and others block Route 6 in protest of rampant violent crime within the community, October 28, 2021. (Joint List)

Dozens of Arab Israeli demonstrators on Thursday blocked Israel’s central Route 6 highway as well as other major roads to protest alleged government inaction to end the crime wave in Arab cities and towns.

Demonstrators set out from Kafr Qara, in central Israel, in a convoy of vehicles headed for Jerusalem.

After stopping traffic at the Eyal Junction, the protesters briefly blocked a main highway in Tel Aviv during evening rush hour — the Ayalon Highway near Hashalom Interchange. The highway was reopened a short while later.

Parliamentarians from the Joint List bloc of predominantly Arab parties, including Joint List chief Ayman Odeh, took part in the protest.

Several Arab mayors have also joined the convoy, as well as Arab Israelis who lost loved ones to the ongoing rampant violent crime within the Arab community.

“We’re living in a situation in which there are murders every two or three days. If our children can’t live normal lives, the rest of the country cannot go on normally,” Odeh said.

Arab Israelis have long lamented a dearth of law and order in their cities and towns, where they say police rarely care to solve homicides. But this year is poised to be the bloodiest on record, with 104 killings in the community recorded well before year’s end.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government has pledged to act to end the violence. On Sunday, the government advanced a NIS 2.4 billion ($784 million) five-year plan to end the violence; some more extreme measures, such as involving the Shin Bet security service and expanding police powers, are also being examined. The plan will now head to the Knesset, where it is set to be passed as part of the upcoming budget.

The Joint List has sharply criticized the plan, however. “This is a plan to kill 1,400 Arabs,” Odeh said on Tuesday in a video posted on his Facebook page, in which he argued the proposal does not allocate enough resources to the problem.

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