Israeli Arabs, Upset with Police, Launch Strike in Nazareth
Nazareth, Israel's biggest Arab town, was paralyzed Thursday by a general strike launched by residents to protest police inaction against crime, Israeli television reported.
Stores and schools were closed and municipal employees stopped work for a day following the murder Wednesday of a shopkeeper during an armed robbery.
The mayor of the town of 60,000, Ramez Jaraisy, said, "we are on strike against the police's approach to the Arab population.”
"Instead of protecting Arab citizens, the police consider them potential enemies and treat them like a security problem," he added.
The strike came amid growing tensions in the Israeli Arab community following a string of arrests of Arabs suspected of subversive activity and a police investigation into an Israeli Arab MP for allegedly inciting violence.
Israel's one million Arabs, who make up around 18 percent of the country's population, frequently complain of discrimination and lower living standards.
On Wednesday, Israel's Attorney General Eliyakim Rubinstein ordered an investigation into MP Mohammed Barakeh who is accused of encouraging Israeli Arabs to use force to stop the destruction of their houses built without permits and to throw stones at police.
But the same day a second Israeli Arab MP, Abdel Malik Dahamshe, defiantly issued a fresh threat to "break the hands" of any Israeli policeman who tried to destroy an Arab home.
In a separate development, police said Wednesday they had arrested 34 Israeli Arabs suspected of stockpiling weapons, setting fire to houses, and setting up clandestine Palestinian nationalist networks.
They are residents of the town of Umm al-Fahm to the northeast of Tel Aviv, an Islamist stronghold, where a mass rally planned for Friday is expected to draw tens of thousands of Muslims -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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