Hundreds of Israelis protested on Thursday in Tel Aviv against what they claim is police inaction amid the surging crime and violence in Arab communities.
24 Arab citizens of Israel have been shot dead this year, mostly by unknown assailants from within their towns and villages. The shootings, most often crime and gang related, have become a defining issue for the 21 percent minority ahead of a March 23 national election.
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The Bereaved Mothers for Life Forum, which was founded by mothers who lost their children, planned the demonstration. Kifah Ajabria, one of the forum's founders, has called on the Jewish community to join their struggle.
"It's an opportunity for Jewish citizens to join the fight for life. Only together we can bring quiet and peace to the streets," she said. Another founder, Watfa Jabali, who lost her son two years ago, "wants to make sure there will be no more grieving mothers."
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Jaber Hijazi lost his brother to a shootout between armed gangs and police officers last month. He came to the rally to protest against the blind eye police turns to crime in Arab communities. "In Umm al-Fahm and Tamra, one can easily put their hands on various firearms with only few thousand shekels," he said.
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties, as well as Tamar Zandberg and Esawi Freige from the left-wing political party of Meretz, also spoke at the rally.