Knesset Member Dov Khenin of Hadash charged Prime Minister Netanyahu with deliberately inciting against the country’s Arab citizens and setting the police to brutal raids – with the deliberate intention of distracting attention from the ongoing police investigation into charges of corruption against the PM. “The deeper the police investigation of Netanyahu, the wider the flames of his incitement”.
Khenin was speaking at a protest rally held on King George Street in Tel Aviv, in the aftermath of widespread police violence, bloodshed and demolition of homes at the Bedouin village of Um al-Hiran in the Negev. Khenin noted that there was a visible direct relation between the intensification of the PM’s investigation on charges of corruption and the intensification of home demolitions and police violence against Arab residents in such places as Qalansawa and Umm al-Hiran.
MK Issawi Freij of Meretz spoke in a similar vein and said, "Today there was a completely unwarranted police offensive against the residents of Umm al-Hiran. Two people paid with their lives, a civilian and a police officer. Two people paid with their lives, two families became bereaved, two sets of children were orphaned. Two people were killed needlessly, with no justification and no reason for their deaths. It happened only and solely because the Prime Minister wants to distract attention from the steady supply of expensive cigars and champagne which he allegedly got from an American billionaire. The Prime Minister wants to mark out an enemy on whom his voters can vent their anger. This enemy which the PM has targeted and marked out is me - an Arab citizen of the State of Israel and a Member of Israel’s Parliament, along with all my Arab fellow citizens, a full twenty percent of Israel’s citizen body. We are to be the scapegoats! I declare it loud and clear: we who stand here and at other protests around the country, Jews and Arabs united in voicing our protest, will not let Netanyahu succeed in this filthy design!”
The hundreds of demonstrators, who listened to the speeches on King George Street in downtown Tel Aviv, responded by chanting: "Netanyahu is dangerous – both corrupt and a racist!" and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!” Other demonstrations took place at Jaffa’s Clock Square, in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, in Haifa, at intersections near Acre, Shfaram, Umm al-Fahm and Qalansawa – as well as by Jewish and Arab students at the universities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba.
"The direct responsibility for today’s dangerous escalation and bloodshed at the village of Um al-Hiran in the Negev rests upon those who took the decision to destroy a Bedouin village which had existed for decades, completely raze and wipe it off the face of the earth, to expel the residents and establish a Jewish ‘community’ in its place. In recent days, government officials arrived at the village, bluntly threatened its residents, and demanded that they move immediately to the town of Hura where there is no residence available to them. Those who initiated and implemented such brutal measures against Bedouin villagers (who happen to be citizens of Israel) are directly responsible for the terrible events that took place today in the village" say the organizers of the demonstrations, peace and civil rights groups such as the Negev Coexistence and Civil Equality Forum, Coaltion of Women for Peace and the Recognition Forum (i.e., recognition of the so-called “unrecognized villages” of which Um al-Hiran is one. Protesters call for a comprehensive and impartial investigation of the circumstances which led to the death of a of Umm al-Hiran resident Yacoub Musa Abu Alkian and police officer Erez Levy. They call upon the communications media not to repeat uncritical the highly tendentious and inflammatory accounts disseminated by police and government speakers - which are contrary to the eyewitness testimonies of Jews and Arabs present on the scene.
The terrible bloodshed was the culmination of a day of violence which began in the morning when massive demolition crews arrived at the village, accompanied by large forces of the Yoav unit of the police (created specifically for such anti-Bedouin actions). They had specifically declared intention of expelling the residents and demolishing their homes, in order to make place for construction of the purely Jewish “community” of Hiran. The police used live ammunition and well as rubber bullets and tear gas. Villagers - men, women and children – were injured in the police shooting, as were many of the Jewish and Arab supporters who came to offer solidarity with them.
Biased and tendentious media reports, couched in inciting and inflammatory tones – refusing to recognize that the residents were protesting the destruction of their village and homes, and labeling them as “terrorists " - are a direct continuation of the police violence on the ground.
Contact : Yaacov Manor +972-(0)50-5733276 Sahar Vardi +972-(0)545-683419