Officials from Umm al-Fahm’s municipality and from the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, a top panel of Arab-Palestinian community leaders, decided in a meeting held on Saturday, February 27, that the weekly protests in the city will continue next Friday, March 5, and called for a nationwide solidarity rally in the city in Israel’s northern Triangle region at the end of this week. They also demanded the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry commission to look into the violent police repression of demonstrators there on Friday, February 26.
The demand for an inquiry was echoed by all Hadash MKs on Saturday, harshly criticizing the police and calling for an investigation following clashes at the previous day’s protest of hundreds that saw at least 35 demonstrators injured by police including the city’s mayor, Dr. Samir Mahamid, and Joint List MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash) who was shot with a rubber bullet. “The brutal and racist police have assaulted non-violent protesters who are only asking for a sense of personal security,” MK Jabareen tweeted from hospital after the incident, 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.”
This had been the seventh consecutive week of mass protests organized in Umm al-Fahm over the halfhearted if any attempts by Israel’s government and Police to address the violent rampage of organized crime throughout the country’s Arab communities and the proliferation of illegally held weapons there, reflecting the authorities’ seeming indifference to, if not outright encouragement of, the lawlessness.
The weekly protests usually attract hundreds of participants, but while clashes with police are common, last Friday’s protest was exceptional in the brutality used by police. Dozens were wounded after police fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, and water cannons as they clashed with the protesters. One of the injured, Muhannad Mahajna, 30, was critically wounded when a stun grenade struck him in the head. He was immediately transferred to HaEmek Medical Center and from there to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
On Saturday evening, February 27, hundreds protested outside the Haifa District Court demanding that those arrested by police during Friday’s Umm al-Fahm protest be released, three out of four were.
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