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Arab Israelis step up protests against violent crime

Arab Israelis on Thursday resumed their campaign to protest increased violent crime in the Arab sector.

As part of the campaign, organized by Arab Mks and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the protesters set out from the Galilee and Negev in a convoy of vehicles toward Jerusalem, where they were scheduled to demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s office and other ministries.

The slow-moving convoys were accompanied by policemen who warned the drivers that they would be served with traffic tickets for obstructing the traffic, some of the protesters said.

Some of the protesters got into shouting matches with the policemen and other nervous drivers heading to Jerusalem on Highway 6, also known as Trans-Israel Highway.

The heads of the Joint List are also scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen to discuss the ways of tackling violent crime in the Arab sector.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said that he and his friends will present during the meeting demands and proposals for combating violence and organized crime in the Arab sector.

He said that the Arab representatives would also demand that Erdan apologize for his recent statements that violence in the Arab sector stems from Arab culture. “Arab society, and I say that with sadness, is a very violent society,” Erdan said in a radio interview.

Responding to the statements, MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, said that “instead of taking responsibility for the security of citizens of Israel, Erdan prefers to hide behind racist claims and to blame the murdered victims.”

MK Yousef Jabareen said that Erdan “was evading responsibility by blaming the victim. His statements embody racist and patronizing attitudes. If the police had fulfilled its duties and handled crime as it does in the Jewish sector, we wouldn’t reach the current levels of crime. Erdan should apologize and resign.”

MK Heba Yazbak (Joint List) said that hundreds of vehicles are taking part in the protest against organized crime and recent killings in the Arab sector. “The protest is as big as the pain,” she said. “Our goal is to protest against the inaction of the police and the authorities, who are not doing enough to stop the violence. The Arabs are saying: “We will no longer remain silent.”

MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Joint List) said she and her friends were determined to keep the issue of crime in the Arab sector at the top of the government’s agenda. She too accused the authorities of neglect, adding: “We are fighting for the lives of our children and for the basic right of living in security.”

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