Scores of Palestinian citizens of Israel drove slowly towards the Prime Minister’s Office in hundreds of vehicles to protest police inaction yesterday morning.
The protesters accuse Israel Police of neglecting Arab towns and villages called for government action to combat violence and crime in Arab communities, and demanded a meeting with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to resolve the lack of law enforcements in their villages.
Organised by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, an extra-parliamentary umbrella organisation representing the Arab population of Israel, the convoy from Majd Al-Krum in northern Israel’s Galilee, caused heavy traffic on Israel’s main highways.
This came after the Arab Israeli community called for a general strike last week, closing schools and education institutions in the Arab sector, and began holding large demonstrations against rampant violence and murders in their towns.
Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset, Yousef Jabareen, told MEMO: “The block of roads by cars from the Galilee, the Triangle, to the coast and the Negev desert is the strongest message we send today.”
“A message that our people are uniting to face the epidemic of violence and crime and that our people are ready to increase their struggle more and more until authorities enforce the law as per their duty towards our Arab towns.”
“Our public struggle and our mutual solidarity are our guarantee to achieve our right to life, security and safety,” he added
“We stand at a historic crossroads and we cannot continue to tolerate the sounds of gunfire. The police and other law enforcement authorities must make an irreversible decision to collect weapons from our towns and to curb criminal gangs.”
Violence in Israel’s Arab community has killed 73 people so far this year, a similar number of Arab citizens were killed during the whole of 2018.
According Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Arab sources said that obstacles to solving these cases within Arab communities include police arriving late to crime scenes.
Following the morning protest, leaders of the Joint List met with Erdan and senior police officials to discuss the formulation of a government plan to tackle the issue of violence in Arab society.
During the three-hour long meeting, Erdan informed Arab leaders that the police would allocate 620 officers to handle the rising violent crime in the Arab sector, as well as focus resources on investigating organised crime.
Chairman of the Arab-majority Joint List, Ayman Odeh, commented after the meeting that “there is certain progress in some important areas, but this is far from satisfying the will of Arab citizens.”