Upwards of two thousand persons demonstrated on Friday, March 19, in two Arab cities in Israel, Umm al-Fahm in the north and Qalansawe in the center, to protest gross negligence on the part of the government and police in combating the ongoing surge of violent crime in the country’s Arab communities.
In Qalansawe, two young men were shot dead in the early hours of Friday morning, just hours after thousands Jews and Arabs rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, calling for effective measures by authorities to curtail the wave of rampant crime.
The rally in Umm al-Fahm marked the tenth consecutive week that protesters have gathered there to demonstrate in this campaign since the shooting death of a 21-year-old resident of the city in late January. Police officers blocked Route 65, the main artery running through Wadi Ara, as well as streets surrounding the local police station to prevent protesters from getting too close.
In Qalansawe, protesters gathered at the eastern entrance to the city and blocked its main road to traffic. They chanted slogans against criminality and violence, and against the failure of the far-right government and police to investigate crime in the country’s Arab communities.
Those killed in Qalansawe on Friday morning were Leith Nasra, 19, and Muhammad Khatib, the 20-year-old nephew of the director-general of the city’s municipality. Ashraf Khatib, who himself was shot and seriously wounded while sitting in his car earlier this month. Two additional persons were wounded in Friday’s overnight incident — one was reported to be in moderate condition; the other was classified as slightly injured and released from hospital.