RAMALLAH: Palestinians in the city of Umm El-Fahm inside Israel on Thursday launched a general strike to protest the exacerbated violence directed at protesters by the Israeli police.
The decision to strike was made late Wednesday by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee (HAMC).
The HAMC said in a press statement that the strike came against the Israeli police, which attacked the Palestinians during a march of Israeli right-wing activists in the city on Wednesday.
It added that the strike also came to protest against the “increasing racist approach in the Israeli street which is unfortunately supported by the (Israeli) police and judiciary.”
Abed Anabtawi, HAMC secretary, said all businesses and schools in the city were almost shut down.
Umm El-Fahm, the second Arab city after Nazareth in Israel, was occupied by the Israeli forces on May 22, 1949. Many Palestinians still live there as Israeli citizens.
The HAMC demanded that Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set up an investigation committee to look into the violent events. It also announced that it intends file an official complaint with the Israeli Police Internal Investigations Department.
Anabtawi said the clashes erupted shortly after the Israeli right-wing activists entered the city. The march was secured by 1,300 police officers. The activists, none of them injured, stayed for 30 minutes and called for outlawing the Islamic Movement in Israel.
He added that several Palestinians were injured and arrested during protests and violence between the Israeli police forces and the residents who tried to prevent far right-wing activists from entering the city.
In another move to protest the police actions, the committee plans to circulate a message among various human rights organizations and leaders around the world.
Mohammed Zeidan, chairman of the committee, said these actions were premeditated and intentional.
“They planted undercover officers among us who threw stones in order to justify the assault,” he said. “Their decision was clear from the beginning, even though they knew there were Knesset members in the crowd.”
Meanwhile, four Arab teenagers who were arrested on Wednesday during clashes in Umm El-Fahm were due to appear before the Nazareth Magistrates’ Court on late Thursday for a hearing on their remand.
For its part, the Hadera Magistrates’ Court will be handed an indictment against two residents of the city who were also arrested during the riots, charging them with assaulting police officers.