School strike underway in Shfaram

Residents protest arrest of 7 residents for alleged lynch of Eden Natan Zada.

A general strike was underway in schools in Shfaram Thursday morning in protest of the arrest of seven residents of the Israeli-Arab city for the alleged lynch of Jewish terrorist Eden Natan Zada. A protest march began at 11:00 a.m. Last August, Zada, a 19-year-old soldier, opened fire on passengers in a bus in the Arab city, killing four Israeli Arabs before reportedly being restrained by passersby and then killed by an angry mob. Leaders of the Arab community in Israel questioned Tuesday's arrest, and held an emergency meeting there Tuesday evening to discuss the ramifications. "The arrests are a fig leaf for the failure of the police and army to prevent the murderous attack" on Israeli Arabs, said Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Palestinian Arab Citizens of Israel. According to MK Ahmed Tibi, "The arrests presents a show where the terrorist becomes a victim and the victim becomes a criminal." MK Hanna Sweid of the Hadash party accused the police of inefficiency. "I think the police have a more important goal: to find real killers instead of conducting witch-hunts," he said, adding, "We are not interested in any way in encouraging a lynch of any type, although that's what the media wants to portray. The point is that the details of the event are not clear." For many Israeli Arabs, the arrests fell "under the shadow of the October 2000 events," said Eli Rechess, senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and director of the Program on Arab Politics in Israel. "The idea is that the government did not solve the killing of 13 Arabs," said Rechess, "but, when Arabs kill a Jew who killed [other Arabs], within 10 months people are arrested." Last September, the PID closed all the files related to the killings of 13 Arabs in the October 2000 riots without pressing any criminal charges, leaving Arab leaders wondering whether the government was responding to murders differently. "I know that the legal system is supposed to be fair and equal, whether Jewish or Arab citizens are involved," said Labor Party MK Nadia Hilu. "Yet on the surface it does not look like that. I would want them to investigate more thoroughly the attacks on Arabs." Some Arab MKs stated that the killing of Zada was an act of self-defense. But Shfaram police officer Jamal Aliam told Army Radio that Zada had been attacked by dozens of people after he had been handcuffed and subdued by police. "The massacre was perpetrated by the terrorist Natan Zada, and if he were given the opportunity he would have continued to murder people indiscriminately," said Tibi. "I hope that the court will prove that the arrested people acted out of self-defense." By arresting Shfaram residents, Sweid said, "the police are actually negating the Arab citizens' right to self-defense, which can encourage people to attack the Arab community. The police did not finish the investigation, and it's not clear that the public killed this terrorist. Yet they are unfairly accusing the Arab sector and the families of the victims and perpetuating the suffering." Mossawa said it opposed taking the law into one's hands, but that "reality shows that the security forces cannot preserve the safety of the Arab citizens of the state." The European Parliament is currently preparing a resolution calling for Israel to ensure the protection of human rights. Mossawa recently wrote the parliament, asking it to take into consideration the human rights of the "Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel - 20 percent of the population - [who] have suffered from human rights abuse by the State of Israel and its citizens for many years." The letter cited the October 2000 killings and statements made by Jewish MKs about Arabs, such as MK Avigdor Lieberman's statement in May that he hoped Arab MKs who met with Hamas representatives "would be executed." "In World War II, not only criminals were killed. Those who collaborated with criminals were killed as well," said Lieberman then. "I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in [the Knesset]... Arab MKs who collaborate with the enemy and met with Hamas should be dealt with." "These public statements tend to incite and ignite the Jewish majority, resulting in direct physical attacks against Arab citizens by Jewish citizens," Mossawa wrote to the parliament. "As a feeling of insecurity rises among Arab citizens, these acts of hate speech will reinforce fundamentalism and separation."