Arab municipalities and educational institutions in Israel went on strike Thursday morning in protest over the government’s decision to declare the northern branch of the Islamic Movement an illegal organization.
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The strike has almost completely shut down the official institutions of the Arab local authorities, including schools, reported the mayors involved. But in many towns businesses are operating normally. In a number of large Arab cities, including Nazareth, Rahat and Sakhnin many businesses, especially those on the main streets, have gone on strike, as well as the schools. Many businesses intend to open in the afternoon, as is common on such strike days.
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee declared the strike in response to Tuesday’s security cabinet decision to outlaw the group. The Prime Minister’s Office explained the decision saying the Islamic Movement is a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood and “the two movements share an extreme ideological approach and a common goal: to destroy Israel.”
Higher Arab Monitoring Committee chair Mohammad Barakeh told Haaretz Thursday that the strike intends to send a message to the Israeli government to revoke the ban on the Islamic Movement's northern branch.
On Wednesday evening, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee published a call for the Arab public to strike, saying the protest is not only against the decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement but also against the government’s policies toward the entire Arab population. The committee called the decision a symptom of the policy of silencing and political persecution directed at all the Arab political movements and parties and their representatives.
The decision to have schools go on strike was not received with enthusiasm by many, and drew much criticism in many communities – as well as by some on the Monitoring Committee itself. A number of mayors said they will bring the issue up at the committee’s next meeting, and will ask not to bring the educational system into such political and public battles.
Barakeh said that he is aware of the criticism concerning the inclusion of schools in the strike, but said that the decision is meant to send a clear message to the government.