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08/11/2023 – 17:43
Israeli Arab citizens say they live in “fear” in the face of a hate campaign and attacks linked to the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to statements collected by AFP.
Israeli Arabs, descendants of the Palestinians who remained in their lands when Israel was founded in 1948, represent one-fifth of the Israeli population.
Some of them accuse the police of not protecting them. The police force claims it is combating “the spread of false information that causes panic” and promises to “punish the instigators”.
Incidents have multiplied since the start of the war, sparked after the bloody incursion by Hamas fighters into southern Israel on October 7.
At least 1,400 people died on the Israeli side that day, most of them civilians, according to authorities.
On the Palestinian side, 10,569 people, mostly civilians, including more than 4,000 children, died in Israeli bombings launched in response to the attack, according to the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.
– “In shock” –
An Arab student at Netanya University (center), who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported an “attack on Saturday night” on Arab student residences. The attack was carried out by “extreme right-wing Jews” who were shouting “death to the Arabs,” she said.
“The police came to ask us if we had thrown eggs at religious Jews. We denied it and told them: the cameras are there, you can check,” he told AFP.
“A group of people tried to break down the door and attack us. They insulted us and asked for our expulsion,” she added.
A group of police officers took the Arab students to the roof of the building “to protect us,” the student continued. Others blocked the door to prevent them from entering.
“I’m still scared and in shock (…), I don’t feel safe (…), we’re afraid of going back to university,” she said.
The police referred to “an old publication that incites terrorism, which was disseminated as current” and which provoked reactions.
But Jaafar Farah, director of the “Mossawa” center, which documents violations of the rights of Arab citizens in Israel, accused the police and the Netanya municipality of “failing to deter the attackers”.
Farah stated that members of the anti-Arab group “The Family”, linked to the Minister of National Security, the ultra-rightist Itamar Ben Gvir, organized a demonstration on Saturday against Arab students at Netanya University.
– “The police do nothing” –
Nadim Nashif, director of the digital rights NGO “7amleh”, stated that his website “detected 590,000 violent messages in Hebrew on X, Telegram and Meta”.
Representative Ahmad Tibi, in turn, witnessed threats against parliamentarians. “There is not a single Arab member of Parliament who has not received threatening messages, such as: ‘you must be killed’ or ‘you will soon be killed’.”
“Why doesn’t the police do anything, despite repeated complaints?”, he asked.
The “Power to the Workers” union also recorded repeated attacks “against Arab workers” and highlighted that there had been “an increase in violence against them”.