wadi ara riots 248.88.
(photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
Twenty eight-year-old Wadi Kassab resident Nadim Melhem, who was shot and killed by police on Thursday, was apparently shot twice, once in the leg and once in the chest, and was prevented by police at the scene from receiving medical attention.
According to a Channel 2 report, in the original police version of the event, Melhem was shot only once. In addition, Melhem was not evacuated from the scene by ambulance, as police initially reported, but died while being taken to hospital in a family vehicle.
The funeral of Melhem ended peacefully Friday afternoon in the Wadi Ara area in the north of Israel, however, tensions remained high.
Police had reinforced their presence in the area on Friday morning out of concern that the riots which broke out on Thursday afternoon at the Arara junction on the Wadi Ara highway would resume in force during or immediately following the funeral.
Meanwhile, Israeli Arab leaders asked that police refrain from being present at the funeral, saying it would only serve to raise tensions. While over 2,000 police were on standby nearby, they did not approach the funeral.
At the funeral, attendees held signs criticizing the police, while many expressed bitterness over what they called unequal police treatment of Arab citizens.
Melhem, who was suspected of possessing stolen firearms, was shot during a search of his house when he pulled out a gun, causing police to believe their lives were in danger. Contradicting the police report, Melhem's family claimed he was shot while he slept.
The suspect was critically wounded in the chest and leg and later died of his wounds.
After the shooting, dozens of residents of the village gathered near the highway and began hurling stones at police forces and passing cars.
No one was reported killed in the violent outbreak, although five policemen were hospitalized with light injuries. Two demonstrators were arrested.
Police spoke with local leaders, encouraging them to calm the violence. Local residents also tried to pacify the demonstrators.
Only after the police started spraying the crowds with water were they able to open the main highway for traffic.
Even after the road was opened, the tense atmosphere remained. "The police continue to assign murderous considerations to Arab citizens. Nadim Melhem was the the 31st Arab killed in the last five years by the Israeli security forces," said Abir Kopty, a spokeswoman at the Mossawa Advocacy center for Arab Citizens
Relations between Jews and Israeli Arabs have been volatile since the violent incidents in October 2000, when 13 Israeli Arabs were killed by the security forces.
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