Violent clashes have broken out between Palestinian-Israelis and
Israeli police in response to a demonstration by members of a
right-wing Jewish group in the town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel.
Israeli police fired tear gas at a crowd of Palestinian-Israelis who
had gathered to protest against the march by about 70 "Our Land of
Israel" supporters through the mainly Arab town.
The Jewish protesters were calling for the Islamic movement led by Sheikh Raed Salah to be made illegal.
Dozens of young Palestinians threw stones at police, who had been
deployed to prevent a repeat of the violence that took place last year.
The police responded with tear gas and baton charges, Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported.
"Certainly police were expecting this kind of violence and it has manifested itself," she said.
Fifteen of the Palestinian demonstraters were injured, two of them members of the Knesset.
No 'Land of Israel' protesters were arrested, but ten from the Palestinian side were.
Plainclothes Israeli police officers were seen amongst the
Palestinian protesters with handguns firing shots. Protesters have said
that they believe live ammunition was used, a charge which Israeli
Hundreds of riot police were deployed in
anticipation of violence on Tuesday. Other units are also on
alert across northern Israel and helicopters were patrolling the skies.
But while police acted to separate the marchers from the town's
population, the messages on their signs - that Israel should "be
cleansed" of its Palestinian inhabitants - were still visible.
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"This is part of a long-term provocation that's been taking place," Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said.
"This is one of the multiple fault lines between the Palestinians and Israel.
"This is a struggle that's been going on for a while now between the
Palestinian minority and some on the fringe of Israeli society that in
Europe you would certainly call a fascist movement.
"One of its main goals is the expulsion of the Palestinians citizens in Israel."
The march roughly coincides with the 20th anniversary of the
assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, a right-wing religious leader who
routinely referred to Palestinians as "dogs" and called for their
expulsion from Israel.
Afu Agbaria, an Arab parliamentarian who joined other officials in
protesting against the march, called it a "provocation against the
people of Umm al-Fahm and the Arab minority in the country."
"They are attacking the legitimacy of the Arab presence in the
country in co-ordination with the right-wing extremists in the
government," he said.f
Most Palestinian-Israelis live in the north of Israel. Umm al-Fahm is
the second biggest Arab city in the county and the centre of the
"Given the context, really of the timing of
this march and the fact that the Arabs here, the Palestinians citizens
of Israel, very much feel discriminated against - both on a public level
and in terms of Israeli government policy," Tadros reported.
In the past few weeks, far-right Jewish groups have spray painted Palestinian property with racist graffiti.