FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Protest Met With Rubber Bullets

Nazareth.

Israeli police injured two Arab legislators yesterday in violent clashes provoked by Jewish rightwing extremists staging a march through the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.

Haneen Zoubi, a parliament member who has become a national hate figure in Israel and received hundreds of death threats since her participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza in the summer, was among those hurt.

Ms Zoubi reported being hit in the back and neck by rubber bullets as she fled the area when police opened fire. In an interview, she said she believed she had been specifically targeted by police snipers after they identified her.

Police denied her claims, saying they had used only tear gas and stun grenades.

Some 1,500 police were reported to have faced off with hundreds of Arab and Jewish demonstrators in the town yesterday.

Shimon Koren, the northern police commander, admitted special paramilitary forces had been used against the Arab counter-demonstration, as well as an undercover unit more usually deployed at Palestinian protests in the West Bank.

An officer disguised as an Arab demonstrator, from the so-called “mistarvim unit”, was among the injured, apparently after police fired a stun grenade at him by mistake.

Ms Zoubi harshly criticised the police violence. “The police proved that they are a far more dangerous threat to me and other Arab citizens than the fascist group that came to Umm al-Fahm,” she said.

The march was organised by far-right settlers allied to Kach, a movement that demands the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the occupied territories. The movement was formally outlawed in 1994, but has continued to flourish openly among some settler groups.

The organisers said they were demanding the banning of the Islamic Movement, which has its headquarters in Umm al-Fahm.

The Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has angered Israeli officials by heading a campaign in Jerusalem’s Old City to highlight what he says is an attempted Israeli takeover of the Haram al-Sharif compound that includes the al-Aqsa mosque.

He was also on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza in May, and claimed at the time that Israeli commandos had tried to assassinate him. Nine passengers were killed, some of them by close-range shots to their heads.

The sheikh is currently serving a three-month jail sentence over clashes with the Israeli security forces close to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Michael Ben Ari, a former Kach member and now an MP with the rightwing National Union party, who attended the march, said Israel must not be a “stupid democracy and let people who want to destroy us have a voice”.

Baruch Marzel, one of the march organisers, told Israel Radio: “If the Kach Party was outlawed, then the Islamic Movement deserves to be outlawed 1,000 times over.”

On hearing of Ms Zoubi’s injuries, he added: “It was worth going to Umm el-Fahm. She is our enemy.”

Afu Aghbaria, an Arab MP with the joint Jewish-Arab Communist party, was also hurt. He said he had been hit in the leg.

Arab leaders said the clash had been triggered by undercover police who began thowing stones from among the demonstrators — a tactic that the unit has been caught on film using at protests in the West Bank.

Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel’s Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of the total population, condemned the police actions.

“Racism is no longer found only in documents or on the margins, like with Marzel, but has become a phenomenon among decision-makers and carried out on the ground. What happened today in Umm al-Fahm is a menacing escalation.”

The committee demanded a state investigation into what it called “exaggerated violence” by the police.

Police said nine Arab demonstrators had been arrested for stone-throwing.

Four police officers were reported to be lightly injured. The far-right marchers were escorted away by police, unharmed.

Ms Zoubi, a first-term MP, shot to notoriety this summer after she was among the first passengers to be released following Israel’s violent takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

Ms Zoubi contradicted the Israeli account that the nine passengers had been killed by commandos defending themselves, accusing the navy of opening fire on the ship before any commandos had boarded. She also claimed several passengers had been allowed to bleed to death.

She was provided with a body guard for several weeks after receiving a spate of deaths threats and general villification in the parliament.

The Israeli police have been criticised in the past for lying about the strong-arm methods used to quell protests by the country’s Arab citizens.

A state commission of inquiry found in 2003 that the police had used live ammunition and rubber bullets, in violation of its own regulations, to suppress solidarity demonstrations inside Israel at the start of the second intifada.

Thirteen Arab citizens were killed and hundreds injured in a few days of clashes in 2000. Police had falsely claimed that the deaths had been caused by “friendly fire” from among the demonstrators.

A recently parliamentary report revealed that there were only 382 Muslims in Israel’s 21,000-strong national police force – or less than 2 per cent.

The establishment of the undercover “mistarvim” unit against the country’s Arab population caused outrage among civil rights groups when it was first revealed last year.

The far-right march in Umm al-Fahm was timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary this week of the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded Kach. At a commemoration service in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel told hundreds who attended that the government was allowing the Palestinians to “establish an Ishmael state in Israel”.

JONATHAN COOK is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

 

More articles by:

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
Jefferson Morley
On JFK, Tulsi Gabbard Keeps Very Respectable Company
Vijay Prashad
Standing Up for Left Literature: In India, It Can Cost You Your Life
Gary Leupp
Bloomberg Versus Bernie: The Upcoming Battle?
Ron Jacobs
The Young Lords: Luchadores Para La Gente
Richard Klin
Loss Leaders
Gaither Stewart
Roma: How Romans Differ From Europeans
Kerron Ó Luain
The Soviet Century
Mike Garrity
We Can Fireproof Homes But Not Forests
Fred Baumgarten
Gaslighting Bernie and His Supporters
Joseph Essertier
Our First Amendment or Our Empire, But Not Both
Peter Linebaugh
A Story for the Anthropocene
Danny Sjursen
Where Have You Gone Smedley Butler?
Jill Richardson
A Broken Promise to Teachers and Nonprofit Workers
Binoy Kampmark
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange
Wade Sikorski
Oil or Food? Notes From a Farmer Who Doesn’t Think Pipelines are Worth It
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of Vengeance
Hilary Moore – James Tracy
No Fascist USA! Lessons From a History of Anti-Klan Organizing
Linn Washington Jr.
Ridiculing MLK’s Historic Garden State ‘Firsts’
L. Michael Hager
Evaluating the Democratic Candidates: the Importance of Integrity
Jim Goodman
Bloomberg Won’t, as They Say, Play Well in Peoria, But Then Neither Should Trump
Olivia Alperstein
We Need to Treat Nuclear War Like the Emergency It Is
Jesse Jackson
Kerner Report Set Standard for What a Serious Presidential Candidate Should Champion
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Home Sweet Home: District Campaign Financing
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Latest BLM Hoodwinkery: “Fuel Breaks” in the Great Basin
Wendell Griffen
Grace and Gullibility
Nicky Reid
Hillary, Donald & Bernie: Three Who Would Make a Catastrophe
David Yearsley
Dresden 75
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail