Ra’am leader condemns assault on police in Arab town

Mansour Abbas speaks to police chief following violent clash at Kafr Qasim municipality between Israeli officers and ‘local militia’

A screen capture from video on October 1, 2021, shows a man assaulting a police officer outside the Kafr Qasim municipal building in central Israel. (Video screenshot)
A screen capture from video on October 1, 2021, shows a man assaulting a police officer outside the Kafr Qasim municipal building in central Israel. (Video screenshot)

Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas on Saturday night condemned an assault on police in the central Arab Israeli town of Kafr Qasim.

“I have expressed my unequivocal condemnation to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, wished a speedy recovery to the police officers, and emphasized the obligation to uphold the rule of law and cooperation with police,” Abbas said, following a phone call to the police chief.

“I expressed my desire to work together to improve the trust, work relations, and cooperation between police and Arab citizens, so that together we can defeat the crime and rising violence in Arab society,” added the head of the Islamist coalition party.

Police arrested four suspects over the weekend after several officers were assaulted early Friday by private security guards working for Kafr Qasim. The officers had sought to enter the town’s municipality after receiving a report that someone had been violently taken into the building, but were denied entry by the guards. A scuffle broke out and several cops were beaten and bloodied.

Hebrew media reported on Saturday that the guards were part of an organization hired by local leaders to maintain order in the town amid the epidemic of violent crime in the Arab community. According to Channel 13 news, MK Walid Taha of the coalition’s Ra’am party had himself been involved in forming the group. Taha did not comment.

In response to the attack on the officers, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday condemned “violence in Arab society” which he said had “reached an intolerable point.”

He tweeted: “We will fight it with all our strength. I expect the Arab community, which has been asking the state to intervene, to give police officers full backing and support.”

MK Mansour Abbas at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev described the private security guards as a “local militia,” adding that “the suspects who were arrested and anyone who thinks he can lift a hand against those in uniform will be brought to justice.”

In a video of the incident, the policemen could be seen arguing with a man apparently blocking the door to the building as the fight developed, and one of the officers used a taser.

The tased man, apparently unfazed, then punched the officer in the face several times, causing him to fall to the ground, as others scuffled with another cop.

Shortly after, as two officers tried to detain a suspect, another man exited the building and could be seen assaulting officers.

Two officers and a police volunteer required medical treatment after the fight.

During a remand hearing for two of the suspects, a police representative described the guards as a “type of private police” in Kafr Qasim. The two suspects were ordered to remain in custody another two days.

“These are people who took the law into their own hands,” the police representative said.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai denounced the assault.

“We won’t accept a situation in which police officers are harmed while carrying out their duties,” Shabtai said. “We won’t let it slide… We will do everything to bring the offenders to justice.”

The municipality issued a statement Saturday denouncing the incident, saying the attack on cops was “outrageous” and condemning any attack on officers “doing their job” in Kafr Qasim. It thanked police for its role in maintaining security in the city.

The incident came as police attempt to tackle a soaring wave of violent crime in the Arab community. A 40-year-old Arab man was shot dead on a Haifa street on Friday night, the 95th fatality of rampant violence in Arab society this year.

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