Hundreds of Protesters Block Road, Hurl Stones After Two Killed in Bedouin Town

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A woman at Sami Ziadna's funeral in Rahat holding a sign saying "No violence, end racism" on January 19, 2015.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Hundreds of masked protesters blocked a major road in the Bedouin town of Rahat on Monday, threw stones at the local police station and burned tires, in a continuation of the clashes that followed last week's fatal shooting of a young man killed during a police raid.

Police arrested at least four of the protesters.

In the north, meanwhile, about 100 people held a rally in the Haifa neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas to demonstrate solidarity with the Rahat protesters Monday.

The funeral of Sami al-Ja'ar was attended by more than 8,000 people and marked by clashes with police that left one dead and 22 wounded. Police suspect al-Ja'ar of having trafficked in weapons and drugs.

Monday's funeral of Sami Ziadna, the 45-year-old man who was killed at al-Ja'ar's funeral, took place peaceably. Some held signs like "No violence, end racism."

"What happened in Rahat could happen tomorrow in [the Bedouin town of] Hura," said one of the more than 2,000 participants in Ziadna's funeral procession, many of whom came from other Bedouin parts of the Negev. "Violence doesn't solve anything, but only causes more violence."

The circumstances of Ziadna's death were not entirely clear, but the Magen David Adom rescue service said he appears to have died of a heart attack after inhaling tear gas.

Others wounded during clashes at Sunday's funeral include a participant who was shot in the upper body by a sponge-tipped bullet, according to police, and Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi, who was treated at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

Police officers at the al-Ja'ar funeral said they thought their lives were at risk when mourners surrounded their patrol car, hurled rocks at the police officers and fired shots in the air.

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