Israeli Arabs furious over Galilee killing

NGOs: Calm can be restored by opening probe against police officers.

Youths set fire to tires throw stones at entrance to Kafr Kana Sunday (photo credit: BOKRA.NET)
Youths set fire to tires throw stones at entrance to Kafr Kana Sunday
(photo credit: BOKRA.NET)
Israeli Arabs have expressed furor against government officials and the police, which killed an Arab attacker during an arrest operation on Friday evening in the village of Kafr Kana.
Amin Badir, the owner of a car repair shop in Kafr Kasim in the center of the country, said Arab citizens “are angry at the police,” adding that they “never do good, apart from a few good officers.”
“Kafr Kasim is tranquil,” and Arabs in this part of the country are less active than in the North, where a strike against the incident was kept more strictly, and where most of the protests take place, he said.
Community leaders of the Arab minority declared a 24-hour general commercial strike Sunday that was more faithfully observed in Arab cities in the North than in the central Arab cities, where schools also closed.
Regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Saturday that he would instruct the interior minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who “call for the destruction of the State of Israel,” Badir said the prime minister and other politicians should be more “balanced” instead of “heating up the situation.” Badir referred to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
Aharonovitch recently said that “the fate of a terrorist who harms civilians is death.”
Bennett said: “A crazed Arab terrorist attacked a police car with a knife, in an attempt to murder the officers inside. The officers’ reaction is what is expected from our security men.”
“Would the police act in the same way if it was a Jew?” asked Badir.
Protests took place mainly in the North, with protesters throwing rocks and setting tires on fire at the road entering Kafr Kana. This came after thousands took to the streets Saturday and some threw rocks and lit fires at the entrance to Kafr Kana, near a main road, hours after Kheir a-Din Hamdan was shot by police.
Arab villages in the southern Arab Triangle, east of Kfar Saba, observed the strike more in the morning hours than in the afternoon, when businesses opened and the streets were full of cars and people, though perhaps less than on a typical day.
United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi made a similar argument to Badir on Sunday, telling Ynet that “there is one Jew [Yigal Amir] that shot the prime minister [Yitzhak Rabin] and he was neutralized without being shot to death.”
Ghada Zoabi, the founder and CEO of the Israeli Arab news portal, said the strike was successful and that only some smaller towns in the North didn’t participate.
In addition, “most of the protests occurred without violence,” she said.
Arabs in Israel “feel that they don’t have security,” said Zoabi, adding that they do not trust the police, which do not know how to operate within Arab society.
“The situation is unstable and worrying,” she said.
Moreover, Zoabi pointed out that Arab social media is alight with the video of the killing and youth are also fully exposed to what is going on.
The CEO added that her site has removed numerous statements that could be considered as incitement, demonstrating the rage that exists in Arab society.
Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, said his organization has been working with the police over the past decade on ways to improve its work in the Arab sector.
The Abraham Fund has pushed the police to work with the Arab leadership and demanded that the Arab public receive equal and efficient policing services.
“There have been positive developments, but more needs to be done,” he said.
“The danger,” he said, is that such incidents “will simply destroy the limited achievements that have been made and will take the level of trust between both parties many miles back.”
The police can calm the situation by opening up an investigation into the killing, Beeri-Sulitzeanu said, but warned that if the police “repeat the same mistakes then we will witness more deterioration.”
The statement by Aharonovitch “to kill terrorists is against the law,” he added.
Hussein Abu Hussein, a board of directors member of the NGO Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the police “declared a war against us and against its citizens.”
That a government minister said “the goal is to kill – where in the world do you hear something like this?” he asked.
Yaniv Sagee, CEO of Givat Haviva, an NGO dedicated to promoting mutual responsibility, civic equality and cooperation between divided groups in Israel, said this is not the first such instance in Israel.
The police need to show there is one law for all Israelis and the police need to open an investigation that will calm the Arab public, he said.
Aharonovitch needs to apologize.
“The police’s job isn’t to kill, it’s to neutralize the danger,” he said, adding that the policemen involved should be suspended until the completion of an investigation.
“Police in a democracy have to treat all citizens equally,” he said, adding that Arabs should be viewed as citizens by police and not as terrorists.
Lahav Harkov, Daniel K. Eisenbud, and Reuters contributed to this report.