Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Far-right Israeli marchers clash with Arab youths

27 October 2010

Ana Carbajosa in Umm al-Fahm, The Guardian 27 Oct 2010

[IOA Editor: MPs Haneen Zoabi and Afou Agbaria injured in violent Israeli police actions against demonstrators]

Clashes between Israeli police and local protesters erupted in one of the country’s main Arab cities today, as far-right Israeli activists attempted to march though the streets of Umm al-Fahm.

Hundreds of police separated the demonstrators from the local population for more than two hours, shooting teargas and stun grenades at Arab youths who pelted them with stones.

Tensions between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority of Israel have been high in recent weeks, after the government proposed a controversial loyalty oath bill for non-Jewish immigrants.

“This rally is a provocative action,” said Wasim Abbas, 31, an Arab protester.

“Baruch Marzel [one of the rightwing organisers] represents the racist movement in Israel.

“Many Jews come to Umm al-Fahm every day and we have no problem, but Marzel and his gang come as enemies and we want to tell them that they are not welcome to …” Before he could finish his sentence police fired a volley of stun grenades, provoking a stampede.

Helicopters and a blimp patrolled the sky. Dozens of Arab protesters, whose heads were wrapped in Palestinian scarves, threw stones and set fire to tyres and rubbish bins while chanting “Allahu Akbar” [God is greater].

Nine Arabs were arrested and at least a dozen people injured, among them four policemen and two Arab members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

A far-right group called Our Land of Israel organised the march to ask the Israeli government to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic movement.

Umm al-Fahm is the stronghold of the party, which boycotts parliamentary elections and shares the same ideological roots as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group.

“We have there a cancer of the Islamic movement that wants to destroy the state of Israel,” Marzel was quoted as telling his supporters before the march.

Police had initially prohibited the march, fearing violence, but a high court ruling accepted the appeal of the far-right organisation.

Around 20% of Israelis are Arab citizens. They say they feel discriminated against by the government and the Jewish majority in the country.

Tensions between the communities are on the rise since the beginning of the month, when the Israeli government proposed a law requiring new non-Jewish citizens to swear an oath of allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”.

Guardian photos of the clashes:

The complete IOA coverage of Haneen Zoabi

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