Convoy of Israeli Arabs Drives to Netanyahu's Office to Protest Violence in Arab Society

Among the demonstrators are Israeli Arab leaders such as MK Ayman Odeh, who blamed the police of grave oversight: 'Violence in our society is spreading like a plague'

Israeli Arabs protesting outside the prime minister's office in Jerusalem against police treatment of violence in the Arab sector.
Emil salman

A convoy of cars adorned with black flags set out Sunday morning from the northern city of Umm al-Fahm towards the prime minister's office in Jerusalem to protest the police's treatment of violence in the Arab sector.

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Police forces are following the convoy, which is slated to cap off the ride with a protest outside the premier's bureau in the capital. The initiative to set out on the demonstration was led and organized by the municipality of Umm al-Fahm, the local council in the city and the organization of imams and religious officials, with support from the High Follow Up Committee of Arab Citizens of Israel and the Joint List party.

Among the participants are Knesset members from the Joint List, headed by MK Ayman Odeh and MK Yousef Jabareen. "Violence in our society is spreading like a plague," MK Odeh wrote on Twitter Sunday morning. "It's an oversight that the police don't enforce, don't file indictments and don't go into Arab cities as if it's some sectorial matter and not part of the country. I call on the police to gather the weapons. It's their job!"

MK Ayman Odeh.
Olivier Fitoussi

MK Jabareen said Sunday morning that out of over 520 investigation files that were opened regarding shooting incidents in Umm al-Fahm, only six indictments were filed. "This is a dangerous and grave oversight," Jabareen said. "It seems that culprits have the liberty to act as they wish as long as the victims are Arab. I blame the police for not acting to halt the violence out of a wish to divide and conquer," he blasted.

The data MK Jabareen referenced in his statement was published last December by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in response to a query filed by Jabareen. According to the data, in 2017 only one indictment was filed concering a shooting incident in Umm al-Fahm, while the number of files opened was 184. In 2016, 163 files were opened but only two indictments were filed. In 2015 174 files were opened, and three indictments were filed.

An imam was murdered at the entrance to a mosque in the city in April. The cleric was shot in his upper body. Police opened an investigation, but so far no suspects have been detained. In February, an Umm al-Fahm resident was shot and gravely injured. The police opened an investigation and in this case as well, no suspects were arrested.