'We Want Justice': Family of Arab Man Killed in Lod Protest Police Footdragging

Three weeks after the killing of Moussa Hassouna, the family has seen little progress in his case ■ Joint List leader Odeh says the murderers of Arabs 'receive full backing from the law enforcement and justice systems'

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איימן עודה (במרכז) בהפגנה שיזמה משפחתו של מוסא חסונה, היום
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh at the demonstrationCredit: Courtesy of the Joint List

The family of Moussa Hassouna, a Lod resident who was shot during clashes between Arabs and Jews around three weeks ago, led a demonstration of dozens of people in front of the district court on Friday, claiming that the investigation of the killing was being drawn out.

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The protest came amid fears of a renewed escalation in the mixed Arab-Jewish city, after firebombs were thrown toward a Jewish home on Thursday night. There were no injuries from the incident, and only minor damage to the property.

One of Hassouna's family members, who refused to disclose his name due to fear of the police, said "we want justice to be done. It can't be that murderers are released after 48 hours. Yair Revivo [the mayor] is pressuring the police and the world, as though this protest is a security risk. He is saying that people are going to riot in the streets and will damage property, so the intelligence officer took it very seriously."

Another relative claims that the police threatened Moussa's father. After this, he said "he did not want any demonstration on Saturday. He just wants justice for his child."

"This is a person who loves life, not a person who wants to die. Our family had been here in Lod for 200 years. With us, there is no such thing as Jewish or Arab. We have never had such a thing," he added.  

Moussa Hassouna's funeral in Lod, around two weeks agoCredit: Bar Peleg

Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh addressed the crowd by positing that if a Jewish man was killed, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana would be "the first to ensure that there would be severe punishment, but when an Arab citizen is murdered, the murderers receive full backing from the law enforcement and justice systems."

"Murder is murder? Not in the state of the nation-state law," he added, referring to the controversial basic law from 2018 which asserts that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Ohana stated on Friday that there will be a permanent police in Lod "until further notice" and that he is "formulating a government plan that will bring immediate reinforcements to Israel Police for deployment, especially in mixed cities."

"This will provide personal security to all citizens of Israel, and especially the residents of mixed cities," he concluded.

A city council member, Jamal Abu Siam, stated that "We want to live quietly and not harm innocent people. We have no problem with Jews. We have nobody protecting us."

The Lod People's Committee is planning a further demonstration on Saturday night against the attitude of the municipality and police to Arab residents, but said they have not received police approval. Taisir Shaaban, a member of the committee, said the protest was broader, citing the behavior of the police in general and the wave of arrests of Arab residents, and "the mayor who is directly responsible for these things." The police denied that they received a request for another protest.

Advocate Nira Segev, who coordinated the demonstration with the police on behalf of the family, said "until we receive answers from the State Attorney's office – whether the case is closed or not, and whether the investigation is really underway – we will protest."

Ahead of the demonstration, Mayor Yair Revivo took to Facebook to say that school would not be cancelled and that he was in close contact with the police, but some residents wrote to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, warning of a further flare-up.

On Saturday, Revivo threatened an Arab councilwoman, telling her that he would “give [her] name to the Shin Bet to deal with,” claiming that she had posted incitement on Facebook.

Despite the relative calm in the last week, many incidents of intercommunal violence have been recently reported: a Jewish street cleaner was beaten, stones and firebombs were thrown at kindergartens, and stones were hurled at a synagogue. In response, Jewish residents decided to hire private security for their children's educational institutions. According to the police, however, the recent incidents have been marginal. 

In the last few days, police have removed roadblocks and withdrawn around 250 officers from Lod, who were sent as back-up during the flare-up.

Israel Police also began a large-scale arrest operation this week in response to violence in Arab towns and mixed Jewish-Arab cities, detaining more than 300 suspects already. The vast majority of the detainees are Arabs, and leaders of the community warn that the operation could reignite tensions. 

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