Following home demolitions in Qalansawa on 10 January and Umm al-Hiran on 18 January, the Arab community launched demonstrations against ongoing home demolitions and the discriminatory planning and building policies of the Israeli government. The Mossawa Center participated in the demonstrations organized by the High Follow up Committee and called on the Israeli government to address planning issues in Arab municipalities.
Thousands of demonstrators protested home demolitions and incitement against the Arab community on Saturday in Ar’ara. On the morning of 18 January in Umm al-Hiran,a driver, Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an, and a police officer, Erez Levi, were killed under disputed circumstances. The Israeli police declared the police officer’s death a car ramming attack without investigation and the Israeli media vilified the driver, who was also killed, as a terrorist. An autopsy of the driver, eyewitness accounts, and overhead video footage suggested that the driver was fired upon while driving out of the village and shot in the knee. As a result, he reportedly lost control of his vehicle, hitting the police officer accidentally. He was then shot in the chest and left without medical attention for twenty to thirty minutes. Protesters marched through Ar’ara Saturday and called on the Israeli government to end discriminatory home demolitions and incitement against the Arab community. Seven protesters were injured by stun grenades and stink spray used by police to disperse the crowd.
Dozens of cars convoyed from the Negev and the North to Jerusalem on Monday to demand justice for families displaced by the recent spate of home demolitions. Members of the Knesset and other Arab community leaders joined the convoy. The High Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens obtained a permit for the convoy, but, despite this, police harassed and threatened to arrest protesters driving to the Knesset. The convoy shut down Highways 1 and 6 in an effort to call the broader Israeli society’s attention to the issue of home demolitions. The protestors reached Jerusalem in the afternoon and proceeded to demonstrate peacefully in front of the Knesset.