20 Hurt as School Protest Turns Ugly

Village of Ein Mahil rallies against principal appointed by Education Min.

Educational institutions in the Israeli Arab village of Ein Mahil declared a general protest yesterday after 20 people - including students, teachers and police officers - were injured in violent protests over the course of the day.

Demonstrators had taken to the street in the village, about five kilometers north of Nazareth, to rally against the Education Ministry's appointment of a new principal for the local junior high school, a choice that met fierce opposition from the school's parents committee, which had strongly advocated for a candidate from the village.

Members of the committee demonstrated together with students in front of the school, with protesters throwing stones and eggs at the newly appointed principal and at the police officers who accompanied her.

Police forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the violent demonstration.

The Italian Hospital in Nazareth reported that more than 20 people were brought to the hospital with injuries. Most of those receiving treatment were students suffering from smoke inhalation.

Police reported that four officers were wounded by stones thrown at them, and that a number of police cars were damaged.

The chairman of the Ein Mahil local council, Ahmed Habib, demanded an investigation into the incident. According to Habib, the police used excessive force and attacked students, which he called "an extremely dangerous precedent."