Leaders of Israel’s Arab community ended a three-day hunger strike on Tuesday, November 5, that they called to draw attention to the spike in violent crime in their communities and what they say is the far-right government’s failure to combat it effectively.
Last week four people were murdered in Arab towns in Israel, including two who were killed over the weekend. Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh and his fellow Hadash lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman, Yousef Jabareen and Jaber Asakleh, Higher Arab Monitoring Committee chief and former Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh and a number of Arab mayors and council heads joined the protest tent near the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Barakeh told journalists that it was decided to continue the protest despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement last week of the formation of a team to combat rising crime in the Arab community, as well as the ongoing talks between senior police officials and community leaders. “The Arab public will not settle for announcements and meetings, it wants an action plan to fight crime, with an emphasis on the crime organizations,” Barakeh said.
Six people were murdered in Arab communities in Israel over the past week, bringing the total in the year to date to 81. In the month of October alone, when the Arab community began it organized protests, 13 citizens were murdered.
The Arab public launched nationwide demonstrations in recent weeks to protest what they perceive as police inaction in addressing the ever-increasing wave of violent crime in their communities. Demonstrations were held in some 30 communities across the county, with protesters blocking main roads. In October, convoys from around the country numbering hundreds of vehicles drove to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to protest spiraling violence in the Arab community.
The police solved murders of Jews at almost twice the rate as those of Arabs this year, a Haaretz investigation has found. The police solved only 30 percent of murders of Arabs in 2019 so far. The figures do not include the three civilians shot and killed by police this year. A police spokesperson declined Haaretz’s request for data on the number of murders solved, which is defined as cases in which indictments have been filed.
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