Arab Israelis declare nationwide strike over Bedouin deaths
Leaders of Israel’s Arab population have declared a general strike to protest the recent deaths of two Bedouin men during clashes with police in two separate incidents in the city of Rahat.
The Arab Higher Committee, a central political body that represents Israel’s 20-percent Arab minority, announced that Arab-owned businesses and local schools would close throughout the country on Tuesday.
March in Rahat pic.twitter.com/8AIo29HXzm
— Rabbi Arik Ascherman (@RavArik) January 20, 2015
Former Knesset member and chairman of an umbrella organization of Arab Israeli groups, Taleb al-Sana, who is himself a Bedouin, told Israeli army radio that the strike will “send a strong message that the entire Arab community...strongly protests the murders of two citizens of the State of Israel whose only crime is being Arab.”
Last week, during a police drug raid on Rahat, a Bedouin town in the Negev, 20-year-old Sami al-Jaar died of a gunshot wound to the stomach. Police are currently investigating whether the shot was fired by officers or townspeople.
In a statement, local authorities called al-Jaar’s killing “cold-blooded murder that proves the police’s aggression and the policy of light trigger fingers when it comes to Arab citizens,” according to Haaretz.
— Palestine Social (@PalestineSocial) January 20, 2015
Clashes erupted during his burial, which was attended by more than 8,000 mourners on Sunday. Sami al-Zayadna, 47, died of a heart attack during the altercations, while 22 others were injured as police fired tear gas at the crowd.
Rahat’s mayor, Talal Al-Krenawi, called the police’s handling of the riots “totally criminal.”
“This just can’t be ignored,” he said.
According to police, crowds surrounded a police vehicle and began hurling rocks at the officers, as the car approached the cemetery when the funeral was underway.
Residents of Rahat have been on strike since Sunday.