Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Israeli Arab city of Kafr Qasem on Saturday to protest against the fatal shooting of a resident by a security guard last week and the police response to crime in Arab communities.
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Many protesters carried Palestinian flags and pictures of Mohammed Taha, 28, who was shot and killed during disturbances early Tuesday morning. Others carried photographs of young men arrested by the police last week on suspicion of disturbing the peace during the altercations.
Kafr Qasem residents told Haaretz that the police had not been deployed near the protest, but that police patrol cars were stationed at the entrance to the city to warn people – particularly Jews who had come to show support for the protesters – not to enter the city. The police failed to respond to this article by press time.
Kafr Qasem Mayor Adel Badir told the crowd that the police had to decide whether they were on the side of the residents in their fight against organized crime. Badir, who met with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and President Reuven Rivlin last week, said the residents of the city, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Tel Aviv, were united in their fight against crime, adding that they held the police directly responsible for the loss of personal security in the city.
Kafr Qasem resident Fatma Issa, whose father was murdered in 2012, also spoke to the protesters. “It is our right as family members to know who the murderer is, and that is the job of the police. It is our right to live in peace and personal security. We are told that the case might never be solved, and that is much more painful than the crime itself,” she said.
Mohammed Barakeh, head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, told protesters: “The police are responsible for the civilian terror we are dealing with in Arab society. The conduct of the police last Tuesday shows they are on the side of the crime organizations and against those fighting crime in Arab society. We call on all who have become involved in crime to return to society, otherwise they will face the wrath of the Arab public.”
The committee is also considering a large demonstration in Jerusalem soon.