Arab protesters block junction in Negev, plan to launch hunger strike

Hundreds of people protested in the south against violence in the Arab sector. The sector's leadership plans on launching a hunger strike in front of the government quarters in Jerusalem.

 (photo credit: YASSER OKBI)
(photo credit: YASSER OKBI)
Protesting against violence in the Arab sector, hundreds of people blocked the Shoket junction in the Negev on Saturday during a fourth day of demonstrations.
The sector’s leadership also plans to launch a hunger strike and protest in front of government offices in Jerusalem.
The top monitoring committee of the Arab public convened in Tamra of the Lower Galilee and decided on the next steps of the mass protests. Among other things, it was decided that two large vehicle convoys, one from Majdal al-Krum in the North and one from Shoket junction in the South, would drive in front of government offices in Jerusalem this week.
Likewise, protests will be held in front of the northern district and central district police headquarters. The top monitoring committee “blames the leadership, mostly the police, for closing their eyes in the face of criminal gangs and arms trafficking.”
“This is a racist policy aimed at dismantling this society from within and hurting the social fabric of the Arab public,” the committee said. “The right to personal security is a basic right that cannot be negotiated. The committee sees the placement of Border Police in Arab communities as an attempt to restore a military government and demands a comprehensive plan, which includes fighting against crime in coordination with elected officials.”
Meanwhile, there was a sharp exchange between Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Joint List MKs.
MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted: “I still remember the first briefing in the Knesset in 2015 and how, when time was given to the new MKs to ask questions, the very new MK Smotrich asked: ‘Is it okay to enter the parliament building with weapons and, if not, where he might deposit his own.’ That same racist Smotrich has a weapon despite being a danger to society.”
Smotrich responded, “When many of your people who are doing this for a hundred years already stop wanting to murder us, with your encouragement and with the encouragement of your terror-supporting friends in the Knesset, I will gladly give up the gun. It is heavy, cumbersome and uncomfortable. Until then, I promise to continue to carry it very closely so as to not give any of you a chance.”
Hundreds of people in the Arab sector protested on Friday evening at the Shoket junction in the Negev. They expressed their distrust of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and demanded that he resign.
MK Saeed Alharomi told Maariv, the sister publication of The Jerusalem Post, that “this is only the beginning.”
“We will continue to raise the issue of violence to the agenda in every way possible, until we bring about a change to the trend, to the crime in the Arab sector,” Alharomi said.
Sheikh Walid Abu Kaf said “it is a mistake to point the blame at the police alone. We are equally to blame in our education, and we must change our perception. When a murder occurs in the Jewish sector, the murderer alone is responsible, but murder in the sector affects the entire family and tribe.”

Translated by Tamar Beeri.