Arab Israelis Hold Multiple Demonstrations to Protest Police Negligence

Dozens of activists and politicians attended 14 different protests, demanding Israeli police cut off the supply lines for illegal weapons from army bases to Arab communities

Jack Khoury
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Protesters demonstrate against police negligence in Tamra in the Western Galilee, May 25, 2019.
Protesters demonstrate against police negligence in Tamra in the Western Galilee, May 25, 2019. Credit: No credit
Jack Khoury

Fourteen demonstrations were held on Saturday at junctions and in Arab towns, protesting the conduct of the police in fighting crime and illegal weapons in the Arab community.

The decision to hold the demonstrations was made by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which met last week in the Arab town of Baka al-Garbiyeh in central Israel, following three recent murders – one in Baka, one in Tamra and one in Nazareth.

Protesters also called attention to the death of Daniel Halabi, 18, who was stabbed to death on Saturday in his Druze hometown of Daliat al-Carmel during a brawl. Three suspects were arrested Saturday night on suspicion of involvement in the incident.

>> Read more: A police force of and for all citizens | Opinion ■ Street crime isn't an internal matter for Israel's Arab community | Editorial  

Dozens of protesters attended each demonstration, alongside mayors, Knesset members from Arab parties and political and social activists. Among the protest sites were Umm al-Fahm, Taibeh, Nazareth, Baka al-Garbiyeh, Rahat, Sakhnin and on the main road near Majdal Krum in the Western Galilee, which protesters blocked for a few minutes.

Saturday’s protests come ahead of a major rally to be held this Wednesday opposite police headquarters in Tel Aviv, according to the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.

In another protest planned for next month, a convoy of vehicles is expected to drive along Route 6 and a protest tent will be set up opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Speaking at Saturday’s protest opposite the police station in Umm al-Fahm, MK Ahmad Tibi (Hadash-Ta’al) said a cabinet resolution should be passed to stamp out crime and collect illegal weapons in the Arab community. Tibi said the police should treat these crimes “as if it were Netanya or Nahariya” and cut off the supply lines for illegal weapons from army bases to Arab communities.

The head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, Mohammad Barakeh, echoed Tibi’s statements, adding: “All of us must enlist against crime, which is a threat to us all. It is inconceivable for Israel to boast that it knows what’s happening in the streets of Tehran, and doesn’t know what’s happening in Arab communities.”

Meanwhile, the Coastal District Police took the unusual step of placing a gag order on the investigation of the murder of Ahmad Mazen Daramah of Baka al-Garbiyeh last Sunday, and announced they had arrested a suspect. “Expedited investigation in the Arab community along with cooperation of residents led in four days to a development in the case and the arrest of a suspect,” the police said in a statement.

Residents of Baka al-Garbiyeh said they were surprised at the wording of the statement, because the identity of the suspect was known to many people in the city. A resident of the neighborhood where the murder took place told Haaretz that the suspect’s family had left the town and as far as people knew, had surrendered to the police. “Apparently the police are under pressure and are trying to show success. Nobody is against the suspect’s arrest, but it should be shown as an extraordinary action,” the resident said. According to the police the arrest of the suspect from Baka al-Garbiyeh joins 15 other murder cases in the Arab community that have been cracked since the beginning of this year.

The suspect’s remand was extended until Monday.

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