Israeli Arabs plan protests in TA, Sakhnin

300 arrested since beginning of Gaza operation on Saturday.

By BRENDA GAZZAR, YAAKOV LAPPIN AND ETGAR LEFKOVITS
December 30, 2008 15:24
3 minute read.
Israeli Arabs plan protests in TA, Sakhnin

border police kalandia 248 88 ap. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The Hadash Party plans a massive Jewish-Arab demonstration for Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest the IAF offensive in Gaza, while the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee has a smaller protest set for the same day in Sakhnin. The protests will call on Israel to "stop the massacre in Gaza," and on feuding Palestinian factions - particularly Fatah and Hamas - to unite, said Aymen Odeh, secretary general of the Hadash communist party and a member of the monitoring committee. Both sides "need to unite against the occupation," Odeh said. "Our enemy is the Israeli occupation, not Hamas, and not Fatah, and not others." Operation Cast Lead was an unprecedented tragedy, exceeding Deir Yassin in 1948, he said. The Sakhnin protest will begin at 1 p.m. on the town's main road, while the Tel Aviv protest will begin at 6:30, at a location yet to be decided. Meanwhile, the monitoring committee is preparing to collect donations on Friday for the people of Gaza, such as food, clothes and blood, Odeh said. On Tuesday evening, 350 Israeli Arabs demonstrated in Haifa. Police were on the scene, and no violence or arrests were reported. There was also a protest in Nazareth. Ninety-three Arab residents of east Jerusalem have been arrested for rioting since the start of the Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza, police said Tuesday. The four-day-old protests appeared to be ebbing on Tuesday, with only one peaceful demonstration reported in east Jerusalem by late-afternoon. The suspects were detained for alleged participation in violent protests in which both stones and firebombs were thrown at police, and included both minors and adults, the police said. About two dozen police officers were lightly wounded in the clashes. Three hundred Israeli Arabs have been arrested during violent disturbances across the country since the start of Operation Cast Lead on Saturday. Some 170 of the suspects remain in custody, and 17 of those will remain behind bars until the end of legal proceedings against them, police said. At the same time, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and police chiefs are holding an ongoing dialogue with local Arab leaders in an effort to stem rioting by youths. Dichter met with Arab communal leaders on Tuesday and urged them help maintain calm "despite the tense atmosphere." He added that police would allow approved protests to go ahead, "as is accepted in a democratic country," but warned that "any attempt to turn a demonstration into a violent incident in which the symbols of the state are attacked, such as flag-burnings, will be treated with the utmost severity." Most of the disturbances have taken place across the North and around Jerusalem. On Tuesday evening, police arrested four boys aged 12 to 14 after receiving reports of rock-throwing at the entrance to Nazareth Illit. No injuries or damages were reported. Two boys aged 15 and 16 from Majd el-Kurum, west of Karmiel, were arrested in a joint Israel Police-Border Police operation. They are suspected of donning ski masks and throwing rocks at cars on Route 85. In Acre, six suspects arrested for rioting have had their remand extended until Thursday, while a further 10 suspects, seven adults and three minors, who were arrested Tuesday night, also had their remand extended. Twelve residents of Wadi Ara were arrested over the past few days after attempting to block roads. In the Galilee, 34 people have been arrested since Sunday for trying to block routes 85 and 70. The suspects come from the villages of Deir el-Asad, Bana, Nahf and Kabul. They were arrested for endangering a transport route, illegally congregating, and rioting. The neighboring Amakim police force has 30 Israeli Arabs in custody for rioting, 12 of them minors. Police have also rounded up 386 Palestinians who entered the country illegally in recent days. On Tuesday, Israel Police chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen toured the Northern District, stopping off at a number of flash points such as Nazareth and Umm el-Fahm, where he received briefings from police commanders. Earlier this month, police held its largest ever drill, in which thousands of officers simulated the eruption of Arab rioting across the country.

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