Druse protest land requisitions

The angry demonstration created traffic jams 4 km long, yet was mostly free of violence.

Hundreds of residents of the Druse cities of Daliat al-Carmel and Usfiya came out in an angry protest last week against the state's requisitioning of land in the Jezreel Valley, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Haifa. The demonstration, which blocked main roads and created traffic jams 4 km long, was mostly free of violence, but police are investigating incidents in which six tires on police vehicles were punctured and in which protesters climbed onto the roof of the local police station and covered the security camera there with cloth to prevent it from recording the events below. According to the report, the demonstrators marched to the Daliat al-Carmel police station in protest against the government's decision to requisition hundreds of dunams of agricultural land in the Jezreel Valley owned by local Druse, and to use the land for national projects such as the Jezreel Valley railway line and gas line. The landowners have rejected the government's offer of compensation in the form of an equivalent amount of land elsewhere. The report said that several Arab Knesset members visited the demonstration to show their support but were turned away by Druse leaders, who said the Arab MKs "incited the battle of residents over requisitioned land to political-national lines with the aim of accumulating political treasure." Druse leaders said their aim was to be able to keep the lands that had belonged to them for generations, and they would use "every legal process" to achieve this aim. They said they did not want a repeat of the violent demonstrations that tore through the northern Druse city of Peki'in last year. Haifa district police chief Ronnie Atia and senior police met with the Druse leaders during the demonstration in order to discuss ways to avoid violence, and Atia said the police aimed to provide a sense of safety to all residents. But he added that breaches of order and harm to police officers would not be allowed, and the incidents in which police vehicle tires were punctured and the security camera was covered up were being investigated, and the suspects would face charges.