Israeli Arabs warn of 'new intifada' after operation

Sector calls general strike for Tuesday in protest.

June 1, 2010 07:45
3 minute read.
rock thrower in Old City.

311_rock thrower. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Leaders of the Arab community in Israel have warned that a “new intifada” could erupt as a result of mass demonstrations planned for Tuesday in protest of the IDF operation against the aid convoy headed to the Gaza Strip.

The leaders warned the security forces against trying to stop the protests. They also called on demonstrators to avoid violent confrontations with the police.

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The National Committee for Arab Local Authorities in Israel called for a general strike in the Arab sector on Tuesday in protest against the IDF operation.

The committee strongly condemned the “piracy operation,” saying that those who were on board the ships were unarmed civilians, including representatives of the Arab community in Israel.

“This is a real crime against the human conscience,” the committee members said following an emergency meeting in Nazareth. “We hold Israel fully responsible for this crime and its repercussions, and call for an inquiry into the circumstances and to bring the perpetrators to trial.”

The committee also warned the Israeli authorities against “provoking” demonstrators during Tuesday’s general strike.

It said that Israel bears full responsibility for the safety of the Israeli Arabs who were on board of the ships, including Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement (Southern Branch); MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad); and Muhammad Zeidan, chairman of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee.

MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) announced on Monday evening that Salah was alive and well, and that, contrary to rumors, he hadn’t been hurt during the IDF raid.

“After contacting official parties, it has transpired that Sheikh Raed Salah is on one of the ships,” Majadle said. “He’s in good health and I have notified his supporters.”

The committee also urged Fatah and Hamas to resolve their differences and reunite to “face fateful challenges.”

Protests erupted in various places, including Umm el-Fahm, Nazareth and Sakhnin, where demonstrators burned tires and chanted slogans condemning the IDF operation.

Similar protests are also planned for Tuesday, according to several political activists and mayors in the Arab sector.

Zoabi, who was on board one of the ships, said in a telephone interview that the convoy had achieved “victory.”

Israel, she added, “does not only want to keep the blockade on the Gaza Strip, but wants this blockade to be quiet and without anyone talking about it.”

Zoabi said the confrontation between the soldiers and the activists on board the ships showed the world once again that Israel is “responsible for war crimes and is a state of occupation and repression.”

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy called for allowing the aid ships to reach the Gaza Strip and release all those who were detained by the IDF.

“Israel has committed a crime against humanity,” he told protesters in his city. “This is an international crime that was perpetrated in a cold-blooded manner.”

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) strongly condemned the interception of the convoy and called for organizing “demonstrations of rage.”

He described the operation as a “war crime and act of piracy that was carried out on instructions of the chief pirate, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the war criminal Ehud Barak.”

Zahalka claimed that Barak had ordered the IDF to stop the ships at any cost. “This morning, we saw what the price was,” Zahalka said. “Ehud Barak was the one who in the year 2000 issued his orders to the police to reopen the Wadi Ara highway at any price; the price then was 13 martyrs,” he said, referring to the October 2000 Arab riots in the North.

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