After meeting Minister Erdan, Arab MKs vow to continue protests

The two sides reportedly agreed on the need to assign more policemen to the Arab communities, as well as a police operation to collect illegal weapons.

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October 10, 2019 21:02
3 minute read.
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh marches in the funeral of Ahmed and Halil Mana'a

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh marches in the funeral of Ahmed and Halil Mana'a. (photo credit: JOINT LIST)

   Arab MKs from the Joint List met for three hours in Jerusalem on Thursday with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen to discuss ways of combating violent crime among the country’s 1.9-million Arab sector.


The two sides reportedly agreed on the need to assign more police officers to Arab municipalities, towns and villages, as well as a police operation to collect unlicensed weapons. They also reportedly agreed to continue discussions in the coming weeks in hopes of resolving the problem.
 
The meeting came after a series of protests organized by the Arab MKs and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel to demand that the police take tougher measures to combat all forms of crime in the Arab sector.
 
After the meeting, MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, voiced cautious optimism.
 
“We can say that certain progress has been achieved in a number of important fields,” he said, without elaborating. “However, this progress is far from satisfactory. We are demanding a government decision to handle the problem. Meanwhile, we will continue our fight.”
 
MK Ahmed Tibi, who also participated in the meeting, said that Erdan agreed with the demand of the leaders of Arab Israelis to direct more budgets to assist in the battle against organized crime and recent killings in the Arab sector. Tibi said that the campaign launched by the Arab Israelis to protest police inaction would continue, as well meetings with Erdan and other government officials.
 
Tibi said he was planning on calling on Arab citizens to hand over illegal weapons to the police and cooperate with law-enforcement agencies on this matter.
 
The meeting came after Arab Israelis organized a slow-moving convoy of vehicles form the Galilee and Negev to Jerusalem to protest the recent upsurge in violent crime in the Arab sector.
 
At least 73 Arab citizens have been killed since the beginning of the year, sparking widespread protests against police “inaction.”
The convoy, organized by Arab MKs and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, caused a traffic jam and minor skirmishes with police on Route 6, also known as Trans-Israel Highway.
 
MK Heba Yazbak of the Joint List said that hundreds of vehicles took part in the protest.
 
“The protest is as big as the pain,” she said. “Our goal is to protest against the inaction of the police and the authorities, who are not doing enough to stop the violence. The Arabs are saying: ‘We will no longer remain silent.’”
 
Two drivers were briefly detained by the police for obstructing the traffic.
 
Some of the protesters got into shouting matches with the police and other nervous drivers heading to Jerusalem on Route 6.
 
Prior to the meeting with Erdan, Tibi said that he and his friends would present recommendations and proposals for combating violence and organized crime in the Arab sector.
 
The Arab representatives, he said, will also demand that Erdan apologize for his recent statements that violence in the Arab sector stems from Arab culture.
 
“Arab society, and I say that with sadness, is a very violent society,” Erdan had said in a radio interview.
 
Responding to the statements, Odeh said that “instead of taking responsibility for the security of citizens of Israel, Erdan prefers to hide behind racist claims and to blame the murdered victims.”
 
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen said that Erdan “was evading responsibility by blaming the victim. His statements embody racist and patronizing attitudes. If the police had fulfilled their duty and handled crime as it does in the Jewish sector, we wouldn’t reach the current levels of crime. Erdan should apologize and resign.”
 
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said she and her colleagues were determined to keep the issue of crime in the Arab sector at the top of the government’s agenda and accused the authorities of neglect.
 
“We are fighting for the lives of our children, and for the basic right of living in security,” she said.


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