Tuesday 24 March 2009

Um Al-Faham citizens clash with Israeli police escorting far-right march


[ 24/03/2009 - 10:51 AM ]

UM AL-FAHAM, (PIC)-- Israeli policemen, escorting a march for far-right activists in Um Al-Faham, on Tuesday fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters and opened water cannons at Arab citizens who blocked their way into the city.

Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine, told Al-Jazeera TV that a number of citizens were injured in the process, and charged the police with blocking access to the wounded citizens.

He stressed that the Israeli oppression of Palestinians started ever since the occupation of most of Palestine in 1948, charging the Zionist fanatics with maintaining a policy of religious and racial discrimination against the Palestinians and with trying to force the Palestinians to abandon their lands.

Salah said that Arabs from various areas of Palestine occupied in 1948 came to Um Al-Faham in solidarity with this city in a reflection of a unanimous stand in defense of Arab destiny and future and in rejection of the attempts to force them out of their ancestral land.

The city's municipality had declared general strike in protest over the far-right march at the outskirts of Um Al-Faham led by the leader of the terrorist Kach movement, Baruch Marzel, which was escorted by 2,500 Israeli policemen.

The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli police turned the city into military barracks to protect the march.

In a related issue, a report by Musawa (equality) center for Arab citizens' rights in Israel has disclosed that racial dissemination against those citizens was on the rise.

It said that the center monitored 270 assaults on Arabs since start of 2009 compared to 166 assaults in the entire year of 2008.

Clashes between Palestinians and Settlers in Umm al-Fahm
Hanan Awarekeh

24/03/2009 Occupied Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm witnessed on Tuesday fierce clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers protesting a march by far-rightists who tried to enter the town amidst the protection of the Israeli occupation police.

The Palestinian residents, led by Arab leaders and MPs, and along with hundreds of Palestinian residents of the neighboring towns gathered at the town’s entrance to prevent the settlers from marching into the city and waving Israeli flags during the march.

Earlier Tuesday, more than 2,500 Israeli police officers deployed in and around Umm al-Fahm, ahead of the rally, for which the far-rightists had received High Court approval. Israeli Police used stun grenades and tear gas against the Palestinian residents, and even had undercover officers among the crowd who detained some of the rioters.

The clash erupted after police arrested three Israeli Arabs who had scuffled with officers. The detainees had gathered for a counter-demonstration held by Umm al-Fahm residents.

On Monday, in Umm al-Fahm, a small group of protesters set up a vigil outside the town's police station, calling for the procession to be banned.

Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan said at a press conference on Monday that residents will prevent the right-wingers from entering their town, and will use force if necessary. "We have no desire for clashes," he said, "and we are not planning on confrontations with the marchers or the police. Our position is that we will try to block them with our bodies, but peacefully and quietly."

Meanwhile, a general strike has been called in Umm al-Fahm for Tuesday. Businesses, schools and government offices will be closed to protest the rightist march. MK Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) also called on the Israeli left to join the counter-demonstrations in the city. He said that the incoming government could adopt a similar approach to Israeli Arabs as the rightist marchers. "When they attack Umm al-Fahm, they attack the entire Israeli-Arab population. We will protect our town and our homeland," he said.

The city's residents faced Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir, furious over the parade. "This is a sad day for me. The police are giving shelter to the most racist person in Israel," said one of them, Muhammad Talas. "I'm not against Jews. We love those who love us and hate anyone who hates us, and what is happening here is the Right's policy."

One of the Arab protestors complained about the Israerli police's policy. "What can I say? You see for yourselves how the police defend the settlers instead of defending the city's residents."

Arab MKs who came to the city said Israeli occupation police made excessive use of force and called for the prosecution of "the racists who came to provoke".

Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh said after seeing one of the residents hurt and collapse, “We are witnessing police who are easy on the trigger. Instead of preventing provocations, they attack the people who came to defend their town. It's clear to everyone that the demonstration is aimed at uprooting Umm al-Fahm's residents.”

"This is not just a simple provocation," the head of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah said, adding Israel's extreme right wanted to "legitimize the transfer" of Israeli Arabs from the country. "We have to fight to stay here and we must prevent by all means Marzel and company from entering into Umm El-Fahm."

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