Palestinian-Israeli leaders declare strike over police inaction

Palestinian-Israeli leaders declare general strike over police inaction
3 min read
03 October, 2019
Local governments will shut down services and schools will be closed in Palestinian communities across Israel on Thursday for the one-day general strike.
The mostly Palestinian Joint List will not attend parliament as part of the strike [AFP/Getty]
The Israeli-Palestinian leadership has called for a general strike on Thursday over violence in Arab communities and what they call the lack of a police response.

Arab Israeli MPs elected in 17 September elections will take part in the strike and not attend the swearing in of Israeli parliament scheduled for the same day.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan will meet with the mostly Arab Joint List, the third largest force in the Knesset, on Sunday to discuss the issue, Haaretz reported. 

The meeting will include a briefing on steps to be taken immediately, the Israeli newspaper added, with one such measure described as "deploying forces in Arab communities".

Local governments will shut down services and schools will be closed in Palestinian communities across Israel on Thursday for the one-day general strike.

On Tuesday, schoolchildren and teachers walked out of school to join a thousand strong protest and march on the main police station in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm.

That protest, as well as Thursday's strike, calls on the Israeli police to address the issue of violence within the Palestinian community.

"The crime situation and violence in Arab society is unfortunately intolerable and dealing with it is at the top of our priorities," Erdan said in the statement. 

"This involves an emergency situation and it must be fought through all-out war as we fight terrorism," he added.

"I also call upon the Arab leadership to take an active part in the fight, to lead to historic change together and to bring security to Israel's Arab citizens."

The protests come in the wake of several serious cases of violence and murder in Palestinian communities.

The latest of these is a brutal double murder that occurred Tuesday in the northern Israeli town of Majdal Krum, in which two brothers were shot dead during an argument.

Several hundred residents also took to the streets in another northern Israeli town, Eilabun, on Tuesday in a protest organised by several local women.

"It was important for us to speak out against the violence raging in the streets," Joumana Moallem told Haaretz.

Commenting on the protest, Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said: "Violence in Arab society is a horrific plague and today's demonstration is a symbol of an inspiring civil struggle."

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"Arab citizens are standing up to condemn the violence, but it is the Israeli police's role to cut it off at the source," he added.

"This will happen when the body, which has been entrusted with public safety, treats us as equal citizens and not as enemies."

According to The Times of Israel, over 60 Palestinian-Israelis have been the victim of murder since the start of 2019. 13 of those were murdered over the past month.

Palestinian-Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained in their towns and villages in 1948, when Zionist militias expelled the vast majority of Palestinians from what would became Israel.

They make up roughly 21 percent of the Israeli population.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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