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'Arabs are crying out for a gun-free society,' says MK denouncing Israeli police violence

Israeli Arabs march to protest against the raise in crime and violence after performing the Friday prayer outside the municipality building in Umm al-Fahm, Israel, on 5 February 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli Arabs march to protest against the raise in crime and violence after performing the Friday prayer outside the municipality building in Umm al-Fahm, Israel, on 5 February 2021. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel will take to the streets of Umm Al-Fahm today in protest against "police violence and racist lawlessness". After a spree of violence that has seen the murder of 20 Palestinians in the past two months, residents of Umm Al-Fahm will come out in force against organised crime rings as well as the Israeli police over their alleged collusion with the criminals.

Writing in Haaretz about the Palestinian community's stand against growing violence, Joint List Knesset Member Yousef Jabareen, a resident of Umm Al-Fahm, said that thousands of demonstrators will block Route 65 in demanding what he described as a "cry" for a gun-free society.

Jabareen recalled last Friday's demonstration outside the police station in the city which escalated into violence. "The demonstration was quiet and orderly," he explained, "and it was the deliberate decision by the police which sparked brutal violence. Police officers fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and skunk water." Dozens were wounded, including Jabareen and the Mayor of Umm Al-Fahm, Dr Samir Mahameed.

That was just the tip of the iceberg claimed the MK. "The real story is the more than 20 Arabs who have been murdered over the past two months. The story is Mohand Mahameed, an Umm al-Fahm resident who was hospitalised due to police violence, and Ahmed Hijazi, who was shot and killed by the police in Tamra last month."

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In Israel, he said, violence has become the norm. He denounced the Zionist state's double standards when it comes to dealing with its Palestinians citizens who make up 20 per cent of Israel's population. "The police have got used to treating Arabs as enemies rather than citizens."

According to Jabareen, the tens of thousands of Arab citizens who have taken to the streets in recent weeks are demonstrating for the most basic right of all, the right to life and personal security. "The police must collect hundreds of thousands of weapons, solve cases and bring criminals to justice, without further delay," he insisted. "They must also crush the organised crime rings."

Umm Al-Fahm has become the symbol of the Arab community's battle against rising violence. "We fear for the future of our society, and we will fight shoulder to shoulder, Arabs and Jews as well, for the sake of living in a society without guns or crime," said the parliamentarian. "Even though the wounds of the shootings haven't yet closed, we'll continue to voice Umm Al-Fahm's cry in concert with the young people who long for a different future."

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