Protests flare up in Arab Israeli sector over Gaza

41 arrested in demonstrations; Villages, cities throughout country launch general strike.

By BRENDA GAZZAR,
December 28, 2008 21:18
2 minute read.
Protests flare up in Arab Israeli sector over Gaza

gaza explosion strike wicked 248 88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Israeli Arabs closed their schools and shops on Sunday in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, and some rioted as the IDF operation in the Strip continued for a second day. The general strike was called late Saturday night by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, which includes political representatives from the national and local levels. "We are part of the Palestinian people as well and our people are going through a tough time. There is a lot of suffering because of the casualties there," said MK Hanna Sweid (Hadash), a member of the committee. "It's our way of showing our sympathy with them and our solidarity. It is also an objection to the policies of Israel, which is pursuing the issue with force and not by negotiations." As they did on Saturday, police in the North dealt with a series of rock-throwing attacks and demonstrations held by Arabs against the IDF operation in Gaza. Forty-one Israeli Arabs were arrested by Sunday afternoon across northern Israel, police said. Two Jews who entered Umm el-Fahm were reportedly attacked by a mob on Monday evening and lightly wounded. There were also reports of rock-throwing and tire-burning in Wadi Ara. In addition to calling for demonstrations throughout the country, the monitoring committee has decided to send letters to diplomats worldwide asking them to intervene and is requesting that people donate blood on behalf of those injured in Gaza, said committee member Ayman Odeh, who is also Hadash general-secretary. Members of the committee also met on Sunday night in Haifa. The committee has called for an immediate halt to the IAF attacks and believes that negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict, Sweid said. Otherwise, "shelling will continue on both sides." Demonstrations were held in several cities on Sunday, including in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Umm el-Fahm. In Umm el-Fahm, Ayman Igbaria, who lectures on education at the University of Haifa, said that as far as he could tell, everything was shut down in the city, including small stores not on the city's main thoroughfare. Sunday's strike, he said, did not necessarily reflect an acceptance of Hamas policies or behavior, but rather was a call for Palestinians to resolve their political differences and unite to oppose the Israeli military operation as well as the blockade of Gaza. "People are showing solidarity with the Palestinian people because they don't think that it is only Hamas that is being targeted, it's also the entire Palestinian people," Igbaria said. In the Galilee, youths threw rocks at passing vehicles at the Deir el-Asad junction on Route 85, near Karmiel. Two cars were lightly damaged, though no injuries were reported. Police closed off the road in both directions as officers brought the disturbance under control. The road was reopened after a few hours. Also in Umm el-Fahm, one man fired a gun during a rally, accidentally injuring two children aged 10 and 11. The children were evacuated to the Emek Medical Center in Afula with light injuries to their legs. In Daburiya, east of Nazareth, youths burned tires during a demonstration. Police have launched a dialogue with village elders across the Arab sector in an effort to prevent youths from rioting.

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