Israeli Lawmaker, Mayor Wounded in Clashes With Police as Hundreds Protest Violence in Arab Community

Jack Khoury
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Demonstrators in Umm al-Fahm, on Friday.
Demonstrators in Umm al-Fahm, on Friday.Credit: Israel Police
Jack Khoury

An Israeli lawmaker and a mayor of the northern city of Umm al-Fahm were wounded on Friday in clashes with police forces in the city, during a demonstration protesting the authorities’ response to gun violence in the Arab community. Some 500 people attended the protest.

Organizers accuse the police of using excessive force and insist they held a non-violent protest, while police say the protesters hurled stones at the forces, lightly injuring one officer. Four activists were detained for disrupting public order, police said in a statement.

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Knesset member Yousef Jabareen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, said a stun grenade fired by police wounded his back and arm, adding that the city’s mayor, Samir Mahameed, was also wounded. Several more protesters required medical attention.

Umm al-Fahm mayor Samir Mahameed confronting police forces during the protest.

In footage of the demonstration, Mayor Mahameed is seen confronting officers and accused them of unprovoked aggression.

MK Jabareen, of the Arab-majority Joint List, said, “The brutal and racist police assaulted non-violent protesters, calling for personal safety.” He called on the local police chief to resign, and vowed to “continue protesting.”

Police in Umm al-Fahm.

Friday's demonstration is the latest in a string of protests in Arab Israeli communities, which have seen a rise in crime and violence in the past year. 

Earlier this month, more than ten thousand people marched in a similar protest in Tamra, in the Galilee, following the death a 22-year-old nursing student by crossfire during a police shootout in the city.

The student, Ahmad Hijazi, is one of more than a dozen Israeli Arabs killed by gun violence in 2021.

Protesters are demanding a more adequate response from Israel police and government, accusing them of neglecting Arab Israeli citizens.

In 2019, 89 Arab citizens were murdered, compared with 36 Jews, even though Jews make up about 80 percent of the country’s population. Last year, the number of homicides in the Arab community rose to 113, according to Aman: the Arab Center for Safe Society. 

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