Arab Israelis to strike after deaths of Bedouin Arabs in clashes with police

Arab Israelis to strike after deaths of Bedouin Arabs in clashes with police
# 20 January 2015 02:25 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Israeli Arabs plans to go on a general strike on Tuesday, after two Bedouin Arabs from southern Israel were shot dead by Israeli police in clashes this week, the Arab Higher Committee said on Monday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The Arab Higher Committee, which constitutes the central political body of Arabs in Israel, said Tuesday's general strike would include Arab-owned businesses and local schools.

Additionally, a protest against police brutality towards Arabs is planned for Tuesday evening in the northern city of Haifa, it said.

Arabs constitute 20 percent of Israel's population.

On Thursday, Sami al-Jaar, a 20-year-old Bedouin Arab from the southern town of Rahat, was shot and killed by police. According to the police, they came to make a drug-related arrest and stones were thrown at them.

Police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld said a probe into the case was underway, adding that Jaar did not die from deliberate fire.

Clashes occurred Sunday evening at Jaar's funeral between police forces and the mourners. One Bedouin died as a result of the clashes and another was seriously injured, with more than a dozen people lightly wounded.

Rosenfeld said the policemen were pelted with stones at the funeral and the police operated protest-dispersal means to break the gathering. One policeman was moderately wounded and another was lightly wounded.

While the Bedouins say the man had died from tear-gas inhalation, Israel Radio reported the man had possibly died of a heart attack.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said in a statement on Monday the police uses excessive force while dealing with Arab protesters and citizens.

"The murderous acts of the police against Arab citizens have become something of a routine," the advocacy group said in the statement. "This is not the first time that the Israeli police have tried to justify their crimes against Arabs by spreading lies," it added.

Local media reported that following the second funeral in Rahat Monday evening, a dozen of youth attacked police station with rocks and burning tires.

There are about 1920,000 Bedouins, indigenous Arab dwelling the southern Israeli Negev Desert, in Israel. Half of them live in more than 40 "unrecognized" villages.

Israeli authorities does not provide services to these villages, including electricity, running water, health services nor education. Israel's National Insurance Institute say these villages are the poorest in Israel, overpopulated and without infrastructure.

The Israeli government promoted a 2013 plan known as the Prawer Plan, calling to destroy most of these villages and evacuate between 30 to 40 thousand residents, resettling them in towns the government established the 1950s and 1970s. Bedouins were furious over the plan, which fell through, that were not consulted with them and orchestrated a series of strikes with thousands of protesters, often leading to clashes with Israeli security forces and heightened tensions.

"Ever since the shelving of the Prawer plan, the Israeli police have taken a particularly violent and aggressive approach against the Arab-Bedouin citizens with the intention of 'teaching them a lesson'," the Adalah Legal Center said on Monday.

The mayor of Rahat, Talal al-Krenawi, told Army Radio Monday morning that these incidents cannot be ignored, calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "wake up" and act.

"The Prime Minister needs to wake up, not everything is about elections," he said, referring to the upcoming March 17 elections. Calling Sunday's event "criminal," he demanded an investigation committee would look into the past incidents.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called the mayor on Monday, according to the Jerusalem Post, expressing his regret over the violent clashes, sending condolences to the families of the dead and the Bedouin community.

He also urged the mayor to try to keep a calm so that the situation would not escalate.

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