Hundreds of Palestinians have held a mass demonstration in the Israeli-occupied territories to express their deep resentment over rising levels of misdeed and violence in their communities and the Israeli police’s collaboration with criminal gangs.
The protesters converged on Land Day Square in Deir Hanna, located 23 kilometers southeast of Acre, on Saturday evening and marched towards a funeral house in the town in support of young Palestinian man Jihad Hammoud, who was killed in a shooting attack by a group of unknown gunmen last week.
Two other Palestinians had also been injured in the same incident.
The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and placards condemning the Israeli police’s complicity with criminal gangs and outlaws.
Among the protesters were mayors of Arab communities, members of Arab political factions in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and representatives of the civil society.
Spiraling levels of crime and violence against the Palestinian communities as well as the Israeli police’s inaction in the face of the violence has outraged Arab citizens of Israel, prompting tens of thousands of them to stage mass demonstrations.
Protesters took to the streets in the city of Umm al-Fahm northwest of Jenin on March 5 in what some reporters described as the largest rally against violence and organized crime in the Israeli-occupied territories since the 1980s.
The demonstrators said Israeli forces refused to crack down on powerful criminal organizations in the occupied territories.
In recent years, there has been a steep rise in crime and violence against Arab communities across the occupied territories.
Since the beginning of 2021, more than 22 Arabs have died in violent Israeli attacks. According to Israeli police, 113 murders took place in Arab communities in 2020, making it the deadliest year yet.
In 2019, at least 91 Palestinian citizens were killed as a result of violent Israeli crimes, accounting for 71% of the 125 homicide victims in the occupied territories, where the community makes up about 21% of the population.
Arab Parliament demands inquiry into Palestinian prisoners’ situation
Moreover, the Arab Parliament has called for the formation of an international fact-finding committee to launch an inquiry into the situation of Palestinians being held behind bars in Israeli detention centers.
The legislative body of the Arab League said in a statement on Saturday that members of the committee should visit Israeli prisons, and learn about violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners, especially those on hunger strike in protest at their detention conditions.
“The Israeli regime has not returned the bodies of 68 martyred Palestinians to their families since 2016, and has buried 254 bodies in mass graves,” the statement read, stressing that Israeli forces must be pursued and punished for their illegal acts and crimes against humanity.
The Arab Parliament also called on lawmakers worldwide, regional parliamentarians, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, the International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights organizations to take immediate actions to save the lives of Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli prison authorities keep Palestinian inmates under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. The prisoners have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression.
There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.