Lod protest - moti milrod - oct 24, 2010
Children protesting in Lod on October 23, 2010. Photo by Moti Milrod
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Hundreds of Arab residents of Lod held a protest march against the police Friday, claiming law enforcement officials are neglecting the safety of the city's citizens.

The protest followed the wave of murders in the mixed Arab-Jewish city in recent weeks. Demonstrators slammed police for not solving the crimes.

The demonstrators also claimed that not enough resources are being devoted to education and social welfare services in the city.

Speakers at a rally held opposite city hall included local Muslim religious leader Yusuf Elbaz, MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash ) and Lod social activist Maha al-Nakib.

In response to the demonstrators' complaints, the police said last night: "The police in Lod serve its residents at the highest level throughout the course of the entire year."

Fatma Sha'aban, whose sister Abir Abu-Katifan was murdered in Lod last week, told reporters that her sister's killing is not a case of a family-related honor killing, as authorities have suggested. "As of now," she said, "they still don't know what the story is."

She also expressed fear that she would be the next murder victim, and said many other women have the same concern for themselves.

Abu-Marasa Ismail, who chairs the popular committee that organized the march, said it is easiest to attribute the wave of murders to honor killings, but "even if this is sometimes the case, it is still a result of the situation we are in and the state of the educational system here."

"We don't have the schools that we should," said Ismail, who is also the head of the parents' committee at a local school. "We don't have community centers. Our children roam the streets. We don't even have a little soccer field where children can play. Everything that happens is a result of discrimination by the authorities."

He added that all kinds of promises have been made, but they have not been kept and also claimed that the local government is disconnected from Lod's Arab population.

As an example, al-Nakib said there was a fire seven years ago at a gymnasium at a Lod school and that it still remains a safety and sanitary hazard.

She also claimed that not a single new construction project had been undertaken in the Arab community in Lod since the 1980s and that the only government investment in the city's Arab community is for home demolition.