Anti-violence Protest in Israeli Arab City Brings Thousands to the Streets

Police should treat us as equal citizens, not enemies, political leader says, as demonstrators call on security forces to seize illegal weapons

Schoolchildren strike, protest against violence in their community and police inaction, Umm al-Fahm, Israel, September 30, 2019

Protests against violence in the Arab community – and the police's perceived failure to help – continued on Monday for the third day in a row in the Arab-majority city of Umm al-Fahm.

Schoolchildren and teachers went on strike, and, joined by thousands of people, marched through the city to its main police station, holding signs urging people to speak out, and calling on police to seize illegal weapons.

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Another protest, in the northern town of Eilabun, was spontaneously organized by several local women and brought hundreds of people to the streets. "It was important for us to speak out against the violence raging in the streets," said Joumana Moallem.

"Violence in Arab society is a horrific plague," Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said of the protest in Eilabun, "and today's demonstration is a symbol of an inspiring civil struggle."

"Arab citizens are standing up to condemn the violence, but it is the Israeli police's role to cut it off at the source," the Hadash faction leader added. "This will happen when the body, which has been entrusted with public safety, treats us as equal citizens and not as enemies."

The protest in Umm al-Fahm began over the weekend after a resident was shot dead, ten days after another resident was killed in similar circumstances in a nearby town.