Around 20,000 Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel took to the streets of Qalansawe on Friday to protest against the demolition of Arab-owned homes by the Israeli authorities. The demonstration followed a call by the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Residents of Israel for a countrywide response to the demolitions, Arab48.com has reported.
The protesters raised the flag of Palestine and banners condemning the "crimes" carried out by the Israeli government in predominantly Arab cities. These include the demolition of 11 Arab homes in the Qalansawe and the 108th demolition of Al-Araqib village in the Negev Desert. "My neighbour's house was demolished today, tomorrow is my own house," said one banner. "We will build a new house in the place of every demolished house; we are the rightful owners," said another.
The demonstrators chanted their opposition to Israeli government policies which target the Palestinian existence in the country. They called for an end to "aggressive" policies.
"They want us to be homeless in our home country and to be a political tool in the hand of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the others in order to please the settlers," the Chairman of the Follow-up Committee Mohamed Baraka told protesters. "Your presence today is the greatest message to send to those [Israeli officials] who want to challenge our nation. We do not want bloodshed or clashes, but we will not remain silent when our homes turn to rubble. Our homes will remain standing up and we will remain in them."
According to Shu'a Masarwah, the Chairman of Al-Tayba Municipality, what happened in Qalansawe is part of a pre-planned measure. "They gave the people whose houses were demolished no time to evacuate; this has a political impact." He likened what happened in Qalansawe to what happened in Aleppo, such is the strength of feeling against what the Israel government is doing to its own citizens.
One person whose home was smashed down, Khalid Abu-Arar, told the crowd that unity is the key to grab our rights. "It is the best model for our resistance," he thundered. "What Netanyahu did is a war crime and he must be punished."
Such unity was demonstrated by a representative of the Druze community in Hebron who made the trip to Qalansawe to offer support. "We came to support you from Hebron," said Fawwaz Hassan. "We are part of this nation and part of this Arab society. We did not come in simple solidarity with you; we are part of you."