Hundreds of demonstrators blocked Route 65 near the Umm al-Fahm junction on Sunday evening, January 24, to protest police and governmental inaction in the fight against crime and violence in Israel’s Arab communities following the shooting death of 21-year-old Muhammad Agbaria, a resident of the city, who was killed two days earlier while returning home from an anti-violence protest.
According to Al-Ittihad, Sunday’s protest blocked the road in both directions between the Mei Ami and the Megiddo junctions. Three protestors were arrested. On Friday, January 22, shortly after Agbaria’s death, hundreds of residents of Umm al-Fahm began marching in protest through the city, then too blocking Route 65.
Agbaria is the fourth member of his family to be gunned down in the past year and a half. The mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Dr. Samir Mahamid, enumerated the three previous murders which have befallen the members of the Agbaria family. “One was killed in a mosque, another on his way to work, the third was sitting in his store,” he told Walla. “So far, none of these homicides has been solved.”
In an unrelated incident, a senior official of the Islamic Movement was shot dead and a second man was moderately wounded on Sunday, January 24, when a gunman opened fire in on persons in Jaffa. Mohammad Abu Nijm, a well-known Islamic activist, was critically injured in the shooting. He and the second man were taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon for treatment, where Abu Nijm later succumbed to his wounds.
Last week, a protest calling for an end to violence in Israel’s Arab sector was held after the former mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Dr. Suleiman Aghbariah, a well-known figure in the Islamic Movement, was shot. Adgbariah survived the attack but is in critical condition. “No one is immune anymore to the murderous violence and the weapons flooding Arab society. This is an emergency. We’re living in a civil war,” tweeted Joint List MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash), an Umm al-Fahm resident who lives close to the site of the former mayor’s shooting.
Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh and Aida Touma-Sliman took part on Friday, January 22, in another protest held by a group of mothers near the Tamra junction in the Galilee. Odeh, leader of the Joint List, tweeted “As long as police prefer to fight protests held by Arab citizens and not combat organized crime, we will keep paying the price in blood and burying our young.”
According to Al-Ittihad, since the start of 2021, 12 Arabs died in homicides in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Seven of the victims were Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; the other five were Palestinians residents of occupied East Jerusalem or Palestinians from the occupied territories working inside Israel.