Joint List MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash) was wounded by a rubber bullet fired by police during protests in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel on Friday, February 26, Zo Haderech and Al-Ittihad have reported. Some 35 protesters were reported to have required medical attention after sustaining injuries at the hands of the police, including the mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Dr. Samir Mahamid, in addition to MK Jabareen.
One of the injured was reported to be in serious condition after being struck in the head by a stun grenade, according to eyewitnesses. The victim, an Umm al-Fahm resident identified solely by his first name, Muhannad, was taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for emergency treatment. At least 11 of the injured protesters were hospitalized, while the rest were treated at the scene.
The police violence took place during the seventh consecutive week of mass protests in Umm al-Fahm over the ineffective attempts by the far-right Israeli government and the Israel Police to address the rising crime rates of crime and violence in the country’s Arab-Palestinian community.
Following the violently dispersed protest, MK Jabareen called for the immediate resignation of the commander of the Umm al-Fahm police station. “The brutal and racist police have assaulted non-violent protesters who are only asking for a sense of personal security,” Adding, “The commander of the Umm al-Fahm police station must resign immediately, and that is the demand of the entire Arab public in Israel. Police officers who exert brutal force against protesters instead of criminals will not break us. We will continue demonstrating.”
The Umm al-Fahm municipality later issued a statement supporting the claims made by MK Jabareen. “The Israel Police acted in a brutal manner… kids who were present were hit by stun grenades and tear gas… Some of those who were arrested were injured and did not receive medical treatment,” the statement issued by the municipality read.
Later on Friday, the city’s municipal council held an emergency meeting and decided to allow the weekly protests to continue. Furthermore, it announced that it would be arranging mass protests if the police ask the court to extend the arrests that were made during Friday’s protests. The municipality also noted that it would be demanding the resignation of several police commanders from nearby stations, in addition to that of the local commander.
Since their start more than six weeks ago, the weekly protests at Umm al-Fahm generally attract hundreds of participants. Moreover, while clashes with police are common, last Friday’s protest was exceptional in the brutality of the police.