Israeli Arab leaders call for strike

Zahalka calls PM, Barak "pirates"; Rivlin calls for restraint.

May 31, 2010 11:32
2 minute read.
Israeli Arab leaders call for strike

Zahalka 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy [file])


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The IDF and police prepared for the possibility of violence as Israeli Arab leaders called for a general strike on Monday in the wake of reports that 15 protesters were announced dead among the "Free Gaza" flotilla.

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad), whose party member Haneen Zuabi was reportedly detained after being onboard one of the vessels, called for a general strike and protests throughout Israel on Monday and Tuesday, saying that a “massacre was carried out on the boats” in the operation that was planned weeks in advance, whose “results were not a matter of chance.”

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“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak gave instructions to prevent the ships’ entrance at any price,” Zahalka said. “This morning it became clear what that price was.”

The Israeli lawmaker continued to say that this was a “war crime and pirate operation, commanded over by the pirate captains Netanyahu and Barak” and called on both to either resign or to be prosecuted in an international court.

Meanwhile, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called on Israeli Arabs to maintain restraint and not to be drawn into provocations.

“We are all a unified front against continuing the conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East,” Rivlin said.

Northern District police chief Cmdr. Shimon Koren completed a security evaluation in the North on Monday morning, and ordered a high state of alert as well as instructed police officers to be ready "for the possibility of any scenario or attempt to cause a disturbance."

He called for restraint in the northern district, home to a large number of Arab Israelis.

In the North, dozens of local youth came out on later in the day to protest at the Umm el-Fahm junction.The protesters waved Palestinian flags and held anti-Israel placards in solidarity with the international aid activists who were killed in the storming of the "Free Gaza" flotilla.

Border police took up positions in the area to prevent the outbreak of any disturbances.

Hundreds of Arab students at the University of Haifa also demonstrated Monday afternoon against the IDF assault on the  flotilla.The demonstrators were met by a smaller counter-demonstration of Jewish students supporting the IDF's actions.

Police were called by the university administration to establish order during the unapproved event. One of the police officers was lightly injured in the confrontation and one of the protesters was arrested.

In the West Bank, dozens of Palestinian protesters gathered at the Kalandia checkpoint to show solidarity with the international activists killed in the IDF raid.

Demonstrations are expected to continue Israeli and the Palestinian territories throughout the day.

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