About 2,000 people attended a rally in the Galilee Arab town of Kafr Kana on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the riots in October of 2000 in which Israeli Arabs clashed with security forces. A total of 13 young Arabs were killed in clashes with the police 19 years ago, including a non-Israeli Palestinian.
A march in memory of protesters killed in the unrest was held against the backdrop of recent protests by Israeli Arabs who have been demonstrating over growing violent crime in Arab communities.
At Tuesday’s demonstration, protesters called on the Israeli government and the police to take action against the violence and to allocate greater resources to the effort. Among those attending the rally were Knesset members from the largely Arab Joint List and relatives of those who have lost their lives.
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Kafr Kana council head Yousef Awadeh appealed for the gathering to serve “to maintain the social fabric” in the face of the growing violence. He also called on the police to step up their efforts and accused the Israeli government of inaction in dealing with the problem.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “boasts about Israel attacking Iraq and Syria and reveals Iranian nuclear secrets, but Israel and the security agencies don’t know where the weapons are in Arab society,” Mohammed Barakeh, who chairs the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, told the crowd. Firearms, he said, are destroying the community.
“The Arab public doesn’t need to beg to receive its rights and doesn’t need to flatter the establishment and the [Jewish] Israeli public. We will not bow down to receive what’s coming to us as citizens,” he added.
Although this year the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided not to declare a strike to mark the anniversary of the unrest in October 2000, the parents committee in the Arab town of Sakhnin and the student council at the Al-Batuf high school in nearby Arabeh decided to call a school strike.
Some residents of the two towns argued that the anniversary has special significance that should be transmitted to the younger generation, and that students should therefore be permitted to attend the memorial events in Arab communities. In the Yanuh-Jatt area, wreaths of flowers were laid on the grave of Rami Gara, who was killed in the October 2000 riots. Later, participants attended gatherings in Umm al-Fahm, Nazareth, Kafr Manda and Sakhnin, where wreaths were laid on the graves of others who had died.