The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel declared a "state of emergency" in the Arab sector on Sunday due to a spike in murders in recent months, with a general strike set to take place in Arab towns and cities throughout Israel on Tuesday.
On the day of the strike, students will have classes for the first two hours of the school day and will then go out to protests in a number of locations.
The committee also decided to establish an emergency committee that will meet every few days.
The decisions were made during an emergency meeting of the committee, which was held after three people were killed in a string of murders in Kafr Kara within less than 24 hours.
On Saturday, Shiekh Sami Abed al-Latif, the imam of Kfar Kara's central Quba Mosque, was shot dead in the northern Israeli city. Just hours beforehand, Fuad Nasrallah and his brother-in-law, Muhammad Said, were killed in a shooting in the city.
The High Follow-Up Committee decided on Sunday that al-Latif's funeral will take place on Monday and will be followed by a protest along Highway 65.
Some 166 Arab individuals have been killed in acts of crime and violence in Israel since the beginning of 2023, including 157 Israeli citizens, according to the Abraham Initiatives organization. In the same period last year, 72 Arab individuals were killed in Israel.
Arab politicians point finger at government
"The entire leadership of the Arab community is now threatened," warned Kafr Kara Mayor Firas Badhi in an interview with Radio Nas. "Israel Police only come after the crime and are negligent. I personally warned the district commander the other day of blood in the streets after the double murder and I asked for an intensive police presence in the city, and this didn't happen. We are considering declaring civil disobedience!"
Badhi told KAN Reshet Bet radio on Sunday "the Israeli government is responsible for what's happening on the Arab street. This is a country that boasts about being a democratic state, a country of law. There is no democracy and no law. There is no law and there is no judge on the streets. The bedlam runs rampant before the eyes of the police and government."
Badhi called the spike in violent crime "civil terrorism," stressing that "the State of Israel must treat the violence and crime like civil terrorism."
The mayor of Kafr Kara added that "whoever thinks that the Shin Bet is not involved in the Arab sector is mistaken," calling on the government to give the police the tools to fight crime.
"As it did in Netanya and Herzliya and Nahariya, [the government] knows how to do this in the Arab sector. The question is if they want to do it, if this is a policy directed against the Arab sector, if Arab blood is different than Jewish blood."
"The Arab citizens are asking why when this phenomenon was in Netanya and Nahariya they knew how to eradicate it," added the mayor of Kafr Kara to KAN Reshet Bet. "I don't have an answer to this question, except that the Israeli government is interested in continuing the existing war between the criminal organizations in Arab society."
The Islamic Movement in Israel and the Ra'am Party called on Arab communities throughout Israel to organize groups similar to "popular guard committees" to protect themselves from organized crimes.
Popular guard committees were used by Palestinians in the 1930s to guard villages and monitor Israeli forces and have been organized again in recent years in the West Bank to clash with Israeli settlers who enter Palestinian villages.
"Escalate the struggle against this racist government that has declared hostility towards the people of our Arab society at all levels, and work to overthrow it as quickly as possible," said the Islamic Movement and Ra'am on Saturday night.
Palestinian terrorist groups publish statements against Arab sector crime
On Saturday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh published a video calling on Israeli Arabs to fight against crime and blamed the Israeli government for the high crime rates.
"Israel is responsible for this phenomenon, but that does not exempt us from its difficult and painful consequences. Blood is being shed in the wrong place," said Haniyeh, calling for "the people to focus on their interests and on protecting the Palestinian national fabric more than anything else."
Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Muhammad Al-Harazin also published a statement concerning the rise in crime in the Israeli Arab sector, claiming that the wave of violence was being pushed by Israeli officials in an attempt to distract Arabs in interior Israel.