1,000s of Israeli Arabs protest against housing demolitions & killing of Bedouin teacher (PHOTOS)
The rally took place on Saturday in Wadi Ara, an area in Israel northwest of the Green Line, in the Haifa District. It is populated mainly by Arab citizens of Israel.
The demonstrators were protesting against the demolition of houses in Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village, and Qalansuwa, an Arab city in the Central District of Israel. Some people were seen carrying Palestinian flags and placards slamming demolition raids.
“This is the right time to demand the Israeli government stop the home demolitions, because continuing this policy will only ignite the situation here and the members of this government will be responsible for the consequences,” Tawfik Mohammaed, a resident of the town of Arara in the Wadi area, said, as cited by the Times of Israel.
Yael Noy, a Jewish resident of Western Galilee, northern Israel, told Haaretz that she joined the demonstration to express solidarity with the Arab community. “They can’t fight this war without us,” she said.
Several protesters were injured after police deployed stun grenades against the crowd, Haaretz newspaper reported.
“The thousands of protesters here are sending a clear message from the Arab public to Netanyahu – we will not give in to a policy of demolition and incitement,” Ahmed Tibi from the Arab Joint List said, as cited by Haaretz.
The rally also denounced the death of math teacher Ya’akub Musa Abu Al-Qi’an from Umm al-Hiran, who was killed under disputed circumstances on Wednesday. The incident took place when Israeli Police conducted a demolition raid in the village.
People were seen carrying signs slamming the government's “campaign of lies” about the teacher’s death, AFP reported.
Police said that Abu Al-Qi’an deliberately rammed his car into IDF Border Police during clashes in the village, killing police officer Erez Levi. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly called the incident “a vehicular terror attack.”
However, residents of the Bedouin village and activists claim that Abu Al-Qi’an lost control of the vehicle after being shot for no reason. Israel Channel 10 News cited the autopsy results, saying that the man was shot in his chest and knee before his car ran over the policeman. According to the report, the man would have survived if he had received proper medical help in time.
Following the incident, Israeli authorities released footage allegedly showing the car driven by the Bedouin. Video taken from a police helicopter seems to show that an officer opened fire while the car was slowly passing by.
On Friday, the family of Abu Al-Qi’an filed a petition to the High Court of Justice, calling for the immediate release of his body for burial. Police, however, did not give the body back to the teacher’s relatives.
“The truth as we stated it all along has finally come to light. The victim Ya’akub Musa Abu Al-Qi’an, a father and a teacher, was shot by the police and bled to death because the police intentionally prevented him from receiving medical care,” Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List, said.
The village of Umm al-Hiran has been disputed in courts for about 13 years. Israel’s High Court recently ruled that the village, where Bedouins have been living for 60 years, must be demolished, as the city of Hiran is going to be built on its ruins.