Thousands of Jews and Arabs March Together Against Racism and House Demolitions in Tel Aviv

18:00 Feb 4 2017 Dizengoff Square

Protesters waving Palestinian flags in Tel Aviv during a march against racism and home demolitions, February 4, 2017. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum. Published by Haaretz

Protesters in Tel Aviv during a march against racism and home demolitions, February 4, 2017. Credit. Tomer Appelbaum. Published by Haaretz

Joint List lawmakers marching with Amal Abu Sa'ad, February 4, 2017. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum Published by Haaretz

MK Ayman Odeh during march against racism and home demolitions, February 4, 2017. Maan Images. Published by Maan News

Scenes. Published by Maan News

The organizers say the protest, in which the speeches were given in bioth Arabic and Hebrew, is a new stage in the civil struggle of Jews and Arabs.

by Jack Khoury and Or Kashti for Haaretz

Thousands of people, Arabs and Jews, marched Saturday evening in Tel Aviv in a protest against the house demolitions in Kalansua and Umm al-Hiran in recent weeks, and against further steps to demolish more homes.

Organizers said some 5,000 protestors participated in the march, which began at the intersection of King George an Allenby Streets and ended in Dizengoff Square.

A number of Jewish and Arab organizations participated in organizing the demonstration, which the organizers termed a new stage in the civil struggle of Jews and Arabs. The speeches were given in Arabic and Hebrew, and marchers waved both Israeli and Palestinian flags.  

Amal Abu Sa'ad, the widow of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, who was killed during the operation to demolish illegal homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev last month, addressed the protesters: "It is important to me to stand here and speak to you and pass on the message to the prime minister and ministers: Despite your wild incitement, the racism and discrimination in legislation, enforcement, infrastructure and government services - you will not succeed in dividing between the country's citizens. All of you, who are standing here today, you are proof that Jews and Arabs can and want to live together and with equality."

She called on the government to establish an independent investigative commission to investigate the evacuation of Umm al-Hiran. Al-Kiyan was killed by police when he ran over and killed police Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi and injured another officer with his car. 

MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, spoke: "Thousands of people have come here today, Arabs and Jews, from all over the country to cry out against the government attack on the Arab population and to call for equality, recognition of the unrecognized villages, and in a demand to establish an official state commission of inquiry to examine all the events surrounding the brutal evacuation of Umm al-Hiran," said Odeh.

MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) said: "The thousands who demonstrated this evening in Tel Aviv are sounding a voice of hope and sanity, facing a government that chooses incitement and hatred. We know that incitement is the last refuge of those who have failed."

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said they had decided to step up their appeal to Israeli and international public opinion. Hundreds of Jewish citizens have participated in the recent protests against house demolitions, said Raja Za'atra of Hadash, who chairs the party's subcommittee responsible for contact with the Israeli public. 

Since the establishment of the Joint List, more politicians in the Arab community see strategic importance in building bridges for dialogue and cooperation with the democratic forces in Israeli society, said Za'atra. This is especially true in light of the ramping up of racism and the harsh attacks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government against the Arab public and democracy, he added.

Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against 'racist' Israeli state and home demolitions

TEL AVIV (Ma'an) -- Thousands rallied in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening in protest of home demolitions targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, with demonstrators calling the Israeli state’s demolition campaign "racist” and an act of “incitement" against Palestinian citizens.
Protesters reportedly called on Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan to resign for “lying” to the Israeli public, saying they held him responsible for the killings that took place during a raid to evacuate the Negev region Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran last month.

Local math teacher in Umm al-Hiran Yacoub Abu al-Qian was shot dead on Jan. 18 by police before Israeli authorities demolishes more than a dozen structures in the village, with authorities claiming he was carrying out a deliberate vehicular attack, in contradiction to numerous eyewitness reports and video evidence that attested his car spun out of control only after Israeli police opened fired on him.

Some 5,000 Palestinian and Jewish citizens joined the march Saturday night, travelling from Jerusalem and across Israel to protest the demolitions and the Israeli state’s discriminatory policies against Palestinian citizens in general.

Members of a local committee from Umm al-Hiran also participated, with at least four busloads of Palestinian and Jewish citizens from the Negev arriving to join the rally.

Demonstrators raised posters in Arabic and Hebrew, including the slogans: "When the government is against the people, the people will be against the government," “Enough of the government's racism…we demand equality," and "Jewish and Arabs together, we fight fascism."

Abu al-Qian’s widow Amal Abu Saad addressed protesters, denouncing the Israeli government's policies of racism, whicht she said led to the unnecessary death of her husband and the Israeli police officer who died after being hit by Abu al-Qian’s car.

She reiterated demands previously made by her family, calling for an investigation into the deadly raid and said that she “still believed in the possibility of living together in peace and equality,” in spite of her loss.
“Since the incident, no one has spoken to us and explained what happened,” Israeli news site Ynet quoted her as saying. “We are citizens of Israel and we want to be treated with respect. I want to be like everyone else. I want the same respect they gave to residents of Amona. We demand to know the truth behind the incident.”

After Israeli police evacuated Israeli settlers from the illegal Amona outpost in the occupied West Bank earlier this week, Palestinian leadership highlighted the double standard between use of force in Amona and Umm al-Hiran.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List coalition that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, also delivered a speech at the demonstration. Odeh was injured in Umm al-Hiran ahead of the demolitions there, saying at the time Israeli police shot him in the head with a sponge-tipped bullet as he joined locals to resist the evacuation raid.

He addressed demonstrators, calling for the end the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory and for ”a truly equal society.”
"Umm al-Hiran must be a turning point -- there should be no more racist demolitions. No more," he insisted, also accusing the “racist” and “destructive” Israeli government of lying to the public.

The event was organized by some 20 human rights organizations, including the organization “Standing Together,” the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, the leftist Israeli parties Meretz and Hadash, Rabbis for Human Rights, and others.

Earlier on Saturday, Secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) Saeb Erekat denounced the Israeli government for its “fascist” and “extremist” escalation against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

"This escalation, characterized by home demolitions and other restrictions against Palestinians in Israel, as well as in the West Bank, and Jerusalem, is a result of fascist alliances between (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and extremist forces in Israel," Erekat said at a gathering held to show support for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Demolitions in Umm al-Hiran and Qalansawe also came after demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem reached a record high over the course of 2016.

Right groups have argued that the aim of home demolitions is to forcibly displace Palestinians from the region, regardless of their status as residents of the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel -- despite the varying legal justifications used by Israel in each instance.
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