Palestinians in Israel accuse Netanyahu of incitement

Arab politicians and rights groups decry Netanyahu’s strive to increase security in Palestinian communities in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lights a candle during a visit to the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu lights a candle during a visit to the scene of shooting incident in Tel Aviv [Heidi Levine/Pool/Reuters]

Arab political leaders and rights groups have decried Israeli Prime Minister’s vow to “dramatically increase” the police presence in Palestinian communities in Israel following a fatal shooting in Tel Aviv. 

Two Israelis were killed and several others injured when an assailant opened fire in a bar in central Tel Aviv. Police believe that 29-year-old Nesha’at Milhem, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Arara village, carried out the attack and is still on the run. 

“We will dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector,” Benjamin Netanyahu told the press on Sunday at the site of the shooting.

“We will open new police stations, recruit more police officers, go into all the towns and demand of everyone loyalty to the laws of the state.”

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An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians hold Israeli citizenship and live in cities, towns and villages across the country. Among them Muslims, Christians and Druze, they suffer from dozens of discriminatory laws that stifle their political expression and limit their access to state resources, according to the Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Moussawa rights group, said that increasing law enforcement in Palestinian towns and villages is to ignore the root causes of violent incidents.

“Netanyahu is using the opportunity to attack the whole community, as he has done for years,” he told Al Jazeera. 

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“More law enforcement is not the solution,” Farah said. “The solution is to deal with core issues from occupation to systematic discrimination.” 

Farah said that half of Palestinian children in Israel live under the poverty line, while enduring “discrimination  in the job market, welfare services and access to education”. 

Netanyahu also accused the Palestinian minority of “incitement” and being gripped by “radical Islam”, calling on Arab members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to “clearly and unequivocally” denounce the deadly shooting in Tel Aviv. 

“I will not accept two nations within Israel: a lawful nation for all its citizens and a [separate] nation within a nation for some of its citizens, in pockets of lawlessness,” he said. 


The attack came after months of escalated violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.Protests were sparked as right-wing Israeli settlers carried out frequent incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims.

Unrest has since spread throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Palestinian communities in Israel. 

Since October 1, Israeli soldiers or settlers have killed at least 143 Palestinians, among them unarmed protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers. Meanwhile, Palestinian assailants have killed 23 Israelis, including soldiers and civilians. 

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian legislator in the Knesset, accused Netanyahu of “continuing his campaign of de-legitimisation” of the Palestinian minority. 

“This speech was full of incitement against the Arab community,” Jabareen, who is in the Joint List electoral coalition of Arab-majority parties, told Al Jazeera. 

Jabareen argued that the government has ignored gun violence within Palestinian communities for years. “The government does nothing about killings in [Arab villages], but now that the same weapons are used against Jews they all of the sudden declare harsh measures.” 

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Nadim Nashif, director of the Haifa-based Baladna youth advocacy group, said increasing the number of police officers in Palestinian areas is “yet another step in the wrong direction”. 

“The police presence is already there,” he told Al Jazeera, explaining that more than 50 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been killed by police since October 2000, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were fatally shot. 

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According to a September 2014 Adalah report, the Israeli government “continues to provide wide immunity to the police from being held to account, and protects them from disciplinary measures for their brutal acts of violence and repression”. 

From the 11,282 complaints of police misconduct submitted between 2011 and 2013, Adalah found that only 3.3 percent led to disciplinary action against police officers and a mere 2.7 percent resulted in prosecution. 

“Increasing law enforcement numbers is a kind of green light for police to be more violent,” Nashif said, accusing the government of double standards. 

“Obviously no one demolishes the homes of [Jewish] terrorists or threatens their citizenship, and there aren’t even anymore police when they kill people.” 

Follow Patrick Strickland on Twitter: @P_Strickland_ 

Source: Al Jazeera