Protesters demand an end to police violence against Arab residents in Jaffa
عمر ربيع. i24news
Dozens of Arabs in Israel and Jewish activists marched in the coastal city of Jaffa on Saturday to protest what they claim was excessive use of force by the Israeli police.
Demonstrators said they were protesting "excessive Israeli police violence against Arab citizens, especially in Jaffa," after the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mahdi al-Sa'di, from the historic Saraya center in Jaffa, as they proceeded down the streets of the city, until it reached the Israeli police station.
Also participating in the demonstration were Arab families whose sons were recently shot dead by Israeli police, such as the Mohammed Taha family from Kafr Qasim village and the family of the educator Ya'qub Abu al-Qai'an from the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert south of Israel, who said that "since 2000, Israeli police have killed 58 Arab youths, without any police being brought to trial."
The protesters chanted slogans demanding the police be held accountable and described law enforcement as "murderers". They also carried signs written in Arabic, English and Hebrew, featuring angry messages against the police and the Israeli authorities in general such as "we reject excessive police violence with Arab citizens inside the Palestinian territories and in Jaffa in particular."
"We will not allow the recurrence of such incidents, and we will not wait for the next victim to arrive," said Amir Badran, a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality. "The policeman who was responsible for the murder must be tried, punished and imprisoned. We have organized these protests in the hope that the public in Israel will pressure the authorities to open a real investigation into the systematic killing of Arab citizens, and not what we have seen until now which is just the formation of sham committees, whose mission it is to cover up police crimes. "
"It is unreasonable for Israel to boast of its democracy in the world and to speak of itself as the only democracy in the Middle East. It treats minorities with unfair discrimination, not only the Arabs suffer victimhood at the hands of the police, but all the minorities, some of whom are Jewish. We do not see this violence directed at other communities, such as settlers, whom the police treat with soft hands like silk," Badran added.
Israeli Member of Parliament Ahmed Tibi, from the Joint List party, said that "the fingers of the Israeli police are quick to pull the trigger when pointing at an Arab. The last victim, Mahdi Jamal al-Saadi, was killed by a bullet he received in the back."
"There is no doubt that the shooting was carried out with the intention of killing," said Tibi. "Israeli police treat Arab citizens as enemies."
The MK pointed a finger at Israel's security minister Gilad Erdan asserting that "he does not stop inciting the Arabs, even though they are the original owners of the country."
Jewish Knesset member Dov Hanin expressed his shock at the killing of Arab citizens by the Israeli police, saying that "the duty of the police in each country is to protect its citizens and not kill them." The former Arab legislator Ibrahim Sarsour said "police violence against Arab citizens" exists "not only among the police, but at the political level that is covering for those who are still killing our people from 1948 until today, not just a village or an Arab city inside the Green Line, but also by the Israeli police. "
"We in Jaffa are suffering from attempts to uproot our city from emptying," said Jamal al-Saadi, the father of the dead Mahdi, who was killed by Israeli police after a police chase in Jaffa about a month ago. "These settlers think that every Muslim is a terrorist, and they are behind the attempts to silence our voices. We are peaceful and have not harmed anyone. We have lived in our homes in Jaffa for hundreds of years and will not leave them. "
Al-Saadi described his life after the death of his son. "All day long, his mother sits at home with me, of course. We weep for him, torn on the inside, the murderer who has demolished our house, we will never forgive him and I hope that my message will reach him, we want him to be punished. "
More than half a million Arabs live in Israel, constituting 20% of the total population of the state. They are the Arabs who remained inside their villages and cities within the Green Line after the cease-fire agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors in 1948.
The Joint List party is a coalition formed in the last Israeli election by the Arab parties in Israel. The list is the third largest party in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and the second opposition party after the Zionist Union party. It holds 13 seats in Israel's parliament.
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