Six Israel Arabs Killed, Hundreds Injured in Clashes with Israeli Army
Six Israeli Arabs were killed Sunday and Monday and more than 200 injured by Israeli police during two days of clashes in the northern Israel, where Arabs observed a general strike in solidarity with the Palestinians.
"We are an integral part of the Palestinian Arab people and we cannot remain motionless when faced with the deaths of children and other horrors that are taking place in the occupied territories," said Mohammed Kanaan, one of the Israeli parliament's 10 Arab deputies.
"Our demonstrations also express the frustration of the one million Israeli Arabs faced with the striking inequality with Jews," Kanaan said in an interview on Israeli public radio.
In an implicit admission of this discrimination, the government has announced that it will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss "a long term annual program to help the Arab minority," but it did not give a date.
However, statements like Kanaan's are anathema to right-wing Israelis.
Silvan Shalom, an MP from the opposition Likud party, told the radio that "the Israeli Arabs' riots threaten Israel's very existence."
The Israeli right wing has long accused the country's Arab minority of being a fifth column threatening the interests of the Jewish state. Some right-wingers have hinted that the Arabs may one day incur the fate of Palestinians who were expelled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Fears of Israeli Arab rioting figured prominently Monday in the Israeli press. The best-selling Yediot Aharonot ran on its front page the headline: "Violence Wins Israel's Arabs."
Even the left has been sharply critical of the violence within Israel.
"There is no doubt that the situation with the Arabs is difficult, but they have democratic ways to express themselves and nothing justifies violence," said former education minister Yossi Sarid, the head of the left-wing Meretz party.
Israel's one million Arabs, who make up 18 percent of the country's population, seem to be holding increasing clout in Israeli politics, and can be potentially decisive when the parliament is close to evenly divided.
But they are still clear victims of discrimination, 52 years after the Jewish state was imposed on them. Arab communities receive far less public funding than Jewish towns and Israeli Arabs find it much harder to obtain construction permits – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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