Palestinian Israeli convoy drives on Jerusalem to protest police inaction

Palestinian Israeli convoy drives on Jerusalem to protest police inaction
Palestinian residents of Israel have been protesting for days against perceived inaction on behalf of the Israeli police to curb violence in their communities.
4 min read
10 October, 2019
A Palestinian convoy drove from Israel's north to Jerusalem to protest police inaction [Arab48]
A Palestinian-Israeli protest convoy set off Thursday morning from the north of Israel towards Jerusalem, as part of ongoing rallies calling on Israeli police to do more to stop a wave of violence in their communities.

During the convoy, the police tried to obstruct the vehicles and delay their journey to the holy city with reports of altercations between the participants of the convoy and the police.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab-majority Joint List coalition, posted a video of himself standing with the convoy on their way to Jerusalem. 

He and other members of the Joint List will meet with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Chief Motti Cohen later on Thursday to discuss a way forward, Israeli media reported.

In his video, Odeh said he will present the "justified demands of the Arab population, with tens of thousands of demonstrators behind us".

"We are demanding that prison sentences and heavy fines for any citizen who is in possession of illegal firearms be anchored in law, and that the heads of organised crime gangs be put on trial," he added.

"We will be campaigning for the most basic right of every citizen, the right to life and security."

At least 71 Palestinian-Israelis have been killed so far this year, nearly as many as in each of the preceding two years, putting it on track to be the deadliest year in at least a decade.

A demonstration will be held next Tuesday in front of Nazareth's police station, followed by another demonstration in front of the police station in Ramla.

'Very violent'

Palestinian members of Israel's parliament accused Public Security Minister Erdan of racism after he said that violence in Palestinian communities in Israel is due to their culture.

"It's a very, very - and another thousand times - very violent society," Erdan told Jerusalem Radio on Monday.

"It's connected to the culture there. A lot of disputes that end here with a lawsuit, there they pull out a knife and gun."

Thursday's convoy action follows days of protests drawing attention to a situation which the country's president has labelled a "national emergency".

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Palestinian Israeli lawmakers boycotted the swearing in of the new parliament last Thursday in solidarity with the protestors, who accuse police of neglecting their communities and allowing crime and violence to flourish there.

"Since the beginning of September, 14 Arabs have been killed, leaving 31 orphans behind," said Odeh.

"Since 2000, 1,385 Arabs have been killed."

'Blood of our youth'

The strike and protests were called after two people were killed and a third seriously wounded last week in Majd al-Krum, a Palestinian town in northern Israel.

Protesters chanted "the blood of our youth must not be spilled!".

The convoy drove from a northern Palestinian town in Israel to Jerusalem [Arab48]

"We want to pressure the government so that they confiscate illegal guns so that the murders decrease," said Samiha Shaban, a 72-year-old resident of Majd al-Krum participating in a protest there with thousands of others.

In his speech to parliament last Thursday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke of "tackling crime and violence that are overtaking Arab society and have become a national emergency".

Public Security Minister Erdan called it an "emergency situation" and said he had "instructed the police to fight violence in the Arab sector just as it combats terrorism and by using all the means possible".

He called on Arab leaders to work with the police.

'National emergency'

Palestinian Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land in 1948, when Zionist militias expelled the vast majority of Palestinians from what would became Israel.

They make up some 20 percent of the country's population and say they are blatantly discriminated against and neglected by the authorities.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Leon Hirsch told Israeli radio that authorities had confiscated more than 3,660 weapons between January and August, with 80 percent in Arab communities.

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Police have also announced hundreds of reinforcements in certain areas.

Former Arab lawmaker Mohammed Baraka said police have to act to discourage violence.

He alleged that Palestinian-Israeli communities saw crime rates three times higher than in the occupied West Bank even though "it's the same society, with the same traditions".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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