Clashes in Israeli Arab Town Continue for Third Day

Youths confront troops in wake of police shooting.

Gil Eliahu

Clashes between residents and police continued in Kafr Kana on Monday, as dozens of young men confronted troops after the morning passed quietly and the town seemed to be returning to routine, following the police killing of Khayr al-Din Hamdan early Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the main road to the town was clear, businesses were open and schools were in session. The community’s focus was on the mourners’ tent at the family home of Hamdan, 22, who had been shot dead by policemen after he stabbed a knife repeatedly at their police car while they were seated inside. In a video of the incident, police appear to shoot Hamdan from close range as he was running away and posing no threat to them.

Delegations from Arab communities came to offer condolences, while others traveled to courts in Tiberias and Nazareth for the remand hearings of 29 youths arrested in town Sunday for throwing stones and rioting.

Eight minors and 16 adults had their remands extended until tomorrow, one man was ordered held until today, while two minors and an adult were released yesterday on bail. Yesterday evening five more people were arrested, and they will be brought before the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court today for remand hearings.

Also yesterday, 1,500 high school pupils in Sakhnin held an assembly at the square in front of city hall to protest events in Jerusalem as well as the killing of Hamdan. In Nazareth yesterday evening protesters blocked the main street and burned tires. Three people were arrested.

Despite these incidents, the trend in the Arab community seems to be toward restoring calm, with Arab leaders saying they do not plan to call for any more protest events, but instead plan to focus on the legal process.

Representatives of three Arab-Israeli human rights organizations, the Mossawa Center, Adalah and Al Mezan, convened to enlist dozens of lawyers around the country to represent the defendants and to follow the cases of those detained in the disturbances that followed Hamdan’s shooting.

Various officials and Kafr Kana council members met with representatives of the Justice Ministry department for the investigation of police officers, who arrived Sunday at the site where Hamdan was shot. According to information obtained by Haaretz, investigators collected a hard disk with additional video clips from security cameras at the entrance to a computer store and other stores and homes near the scene of the shooting. Investigators also obtained a bullet that entered the home of a resident who witnessed the incident. One of the questions being raised by Hamdan’s family is whether the investigators had questioned Hamdan’s cousin, who had been arrested before the shooting and was in the police patrol car that Hamdan attacked with a knife, and into which he was dragged by police after they shot him. The cousin’s testimony, the family claims, could be critical in determining exactly what happened and why.

The family is also focused on the amount of time Hamdan spent wounded in the patrol car before he was transferred to an ambulance. “We’re talking about critical minutes,” said a family member. “From what we understand, Khayr al-Din was murmuring in the patrol car for several minutes and then lost consciousness. If an ambulance had been summoned immediately to the patrol car perhaps we would be in a different place.”