Bedouin home demolitions, activist's death, spark Palestinian general strike
A general strike was announced in Palestinian territories on Thursday to mark three days of national mourning following the death of Yacoub Abou al-Qi'an during clashes with Israeli police that erupted on Wednesday in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert.
Those calling for a general strike included the High Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel– an extra-parliamentary umbrella organisation representing Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Protests spread across Palestinian communities in Israel following news of al-Qi'an’s death on Wednesday.
Israeli officials claim that al-Qi'an was shot dead after he drove his car at police officers in the Bedouin village, currently the scene of demonstrations over Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property in the area. One Israeli soldier is reported by Israeli sources to have died in the incident.
The Israeli government initially claimed that al-Qi'an was affiliated with the Islamic State group, a claim repeated in the Israeli media much to the anger of Palestinians.
This was refuted by locals who said that al-Qi'an was merely a teacher who was driving to the protests to express his objection to demolitions taking place in the area.
On Thursday, the Israeli Shin Bet refuted earlier claims linking al-Qi'an to IS saying there was no evidence of such a relationship.
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A total of eight houses were demolished in Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday with concurrent clashes leaving dozens injured including Palestinian MPs Ayman Odeh and Osama al-Saadi.
MPs from the Joint Arab List political alliance met with the European Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderson on Thursday morning to report the incident, amid concerns of growing tensions in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Only last week Palestinians in Israel announced a previous one-day strike after Israeli authorities destroyed 11 Palestinian homes in the town of Qalansawe. A total of 500,000 people from the estimated 1.5 million Palestinian citizens in Israel took part in that strike.
Israeli authorities routinely carry out demolitions of Bedouin homes deemed to have been built illegally. However, Palestinian residents and activists argue that obtaining building permits is nearly impossible, claiming that the Israeli state gives preference to the construction of housing allotments for Jewish Israelis.
More than 5,000 Arab homes in Israel have been demolished in the last 20 years while Palestinians control only 2.3 percent of land in the state.
Translate: Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian homes in Umm al-Hiran, in Naqab, Palestine.