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Thousands of Palestinian Arabs march to protest Israeli police killings

The fatal shooting of two men by police in the Israeli city of Tamra sparked a fresh wave of protests on Tuesday over racial injustice and police brutality against Arabs in the country.

Thousands of protesters marched late Tuesday in four Arab cities in Israel over the killing of two people by police in the northern city of Tamra. The state-owned KAN TV channel said that thousands demonstrated in the cities of Tamra, Nazareth, Umm al-Fahm and Tira, blocking main roads.

In Nazareth, Arab parliament members and protesters chanted slogans against the government and the police. Clashes escalated between the police and protesters, during which two protesters were arrested, according to the channel. In Tamra, which observed a state of mourning and a strike, hundreds of people continued to protest and closed the main highway, setting fire to car tires, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

On Monday evening, Israeli police opened fire in a residential area of Tamra in a shootout with masked gunmen at one of the houses. Police killed one suspect and wounded another. During the same incident, police also killed a university student “by mistake” and wounded a doctor.

The student was identified as 22-year-old Ahmed Hijazi. The doctor, Muhammad Armoush, 31, was transferred to a hospital in the city of Haifa for treatment, according to Israeli media.

Since the start of the year, 16 Arabs in Israel have been killed by unknown gunmen, with Arab residents accusing Israeli authorities of not addressing the murders.

Arab-Israeli leaders say the Israeli police are failing to collect unauthorized weapons and arrest members of criminal gangs, while the Palestinian community in Israel has suffered from increased rates of violence and crime in recent years.

For decades, Israel has been involved in the attacks and killings of Palestinians, both in Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed that the man was killed south of Bethlehem. Although an official statement said that a Palestinian man threatened soldiers with a knife at Gush Etzion Junction south of Bethlehem, no injuries were reported among Israeli forces. According to the witnesses, the Palestinian was injured and left bleeding to death, while Israeli soldiers stood nearby watching him die.

Another incident took place in December last year when a Palestinian teenager was shot and seriously injured by an Israeli soldier in the village of Al-Mughayir, 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) northeast of Ramallah, while he was protesting against the construction of a nearby illegal Israeli settlement outpost. According to the U.N. Human Rights Office, demonstrators had thrown stones at Israeli security forces, who responded with rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas and eventually live ammunition. Abu Ali was hit in the abdomen with a bullet from a 0.22 Ruger Precision Rifle fired by an Israeli soldier from an estimated range of 100-150 meters (330-500 feet). He was rushed to hospital after failed attempts to stop his internal bleeding, where he was pronounced dead.

Tel Aviv has been criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killings of protesters in Gaza and the treatment of the Palestinians, declaring it a “war crime” under the Statute of Rome. The Israeli military has injured nearly 1,050 Palestinian children across the occupied Palestinian territories between Nov. 1, 2019, and Oct. 31, 2020. Meanwhile, civil society organizations documented 155 Palestinian children’s deaths by Israeli security forces using live ammunition or crowd-control weapons since 2013. The high casualty toll has triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.

According to experts, investigations led by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of fatal shootings of Palestinians by their soldiers rarely result in appropriate accountability. Only three indictments on criminal charges have been issued for offenses directly tied to those killings. In one case, the charges were subsequently dropped. In the second case, the responsible soldier reached a plea deal and was sentenced to nine months in prison for death by negligence. In the third case, a soldier was convicted of not obeying orders and sentenced to one month in military prison.

A leading Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, recently published a report labeling Israel as an “apartheid state” over its policy of favoring Jews over the Palestinians. The report by B’Tselem said Israeli policies, laws, and practices have meant to promote Jewish supremacy. A former U.N. human rights rapporteur and international law expert at the U.S.-based Princeton University said a “peaceful future” in the Palestinian issue “will not arise until Israel dismantles apartheid and agrees to treat Palestinians under human rights standards, including respect for the Palestinian right of self-determination.”

Richard Falk told Anadolu Agency (AA) that “apartheid” is listed as a crime against humanity according to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He noted that “the government of Israel, especially in international settings such as the U.N., is outraged by allegations of apartheid that it repudiates as nothing other than a vicious form of anti-Semitism.”

“Among these are discriminatory standards applicable to immigration, giving Jews worldwide an unrestricted ‘right of return’ while denying Palestinians any immigration rights even if parents or grandparents were born within its territory,” the former U.N. human rights rapporteur said.

Listing examples of discrimination based on ethnicity, Falk said it includes “land tenure, citizenship and nationality rights, freedom of mobility, the security of residence, administration of law, and issuance of building permits.”

“It is clear that these apartheid features vary from domain to domain, from Israel proper to East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza, but the core undertaking is stable: exploitative domination by Jews over non-Jews, especially Palestinians,” he added.

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