Twenty-one Arabs protesting the massacre of Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza were arrested Friday night, May 18, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Hundreds participated in a demonstration in the city’s lower commercial area. The arrests and clashes with police took place at Paris Square, also known as Hamra Square. “They attacked the crowd and some cops made sure to target my camera,” wrote in Facebook Nadine Nashef, who attended the rally. The crowd chanted in Arabic and clapped in unison as they marched through the streets, some of them holding Palestinian flags. The protest ended around midnight.
The organizers of the demonstration, a group of young activists, published the call to join the protest across social networks. Jafar Farah, the CEO of the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, was one of those arrested. Farah, who was brutally beaten by police officers, was hospitalized with a broken leg.
Chair of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadsah), who rushed to the police station to be with the detainees said: “Police forces brutally repressed the protest without any explanation. Netanyahu’s government wants to silence any voice of resistance and dissent coming from here; to silence any voice that embarrasses it and its actions. I have only the greatest appreciation for the protesters tonight and the immense sacrifice of the detainees. No police brutality will succeed in silencing us.”
During the course of the past week, police arrested and interrogated a number of Arab and Jewish political activists in Haifa, because they participated in demonstrations following the killing of over 60 protesters in Gaza on Monday, May 14. Among those arrested were General Secretary of Hadash’s Haifa chapter and a leading activist in the Communist Party of Israel, Raja Zaatry.
Zaatry described how police officers came to his home after midnight, arrested him, took him to the police station, and claimed that he was organizing an “illegal demonstration for Sunday, May 20.” The police threatened that, if he attends the protest, he would be immediately arrested. Zaatry said that the only proper response to the police scaremongering is to ensure that the Sunday’s protest is as big as possible. “We cannot let fascism pass. The protest must be against both what is happening in Gaza, as well as against the attempts to frighten and silence us.”
The protest, which will take place tonight (Sunday, May 20) starting from 20:30 at UNESCO Square in Haifa will be a joint Jewish-Arab demonstration against the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the blockade of the Gaza Strip. It is being sponsored by Hadash-CPI, the movement Standing Together, the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle Families Forum, Isha La’Isha – Feminist Center in Haifa, Combatants for Peace, and others.
The demonstration, tonight, on Facebook: https://he-il.facebook.com/events/234592047295666