Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israeli Arabs clashed with police yesterday over the killing of a young Palestinian man from the village of Kafr Kanna, near Nazareth. Schools and shops were also shut down in protest.
Tensions were already running high because of actions by Israeli settlers on the Esplanade of the Mosques. On Saturday morning, during a demonstration in Kafr Kanna, Kheir Hamdan, 22, tried to stop the cops who were trying to arrest a relative.
According to police, he was holding a knife and threatening police officers in the car. According to security cameras that caught the incident on tape, the youth had turned his back and was moving away from the officers at the time he was shot. For Hamdan's parents, this is a "cold-blooded murder."
This triggered a demonstration in the town with protesters throwing stones and burning tires whilst police responded with water cannon shots and the arrest of 22 protesters. In Um-al-Fahem and Abu Gosh, protesters also began throwing stones. In the village of Shaab, people took down the Israeli flag at the local police station and hoisted the Palestinian flag.
At Tel Aviv University, dozens of Arab students gathered at the entrance of the campus, faced off by several right-wing activists. About 150 students demonstrated at the University of Haifa, carrying signs that read, "The charge: being an Arab; the sentence: death".
Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the demonstrations, accusing protesters of seeking the "destruction of Israel", and threatening to revoke their Israeli citizenship.
In the cabinet meeting that ensued, Finance Minister Yair Lapid called Netanyahu's attitude "irresponsible."
"A man was killed," he said, "and the police are embarrassed, the Arab community is suffering, and some ministers and politicians are using this situation for political ends."
Until now, tensions over the Esplanade of the Mosques had been limited to East Jerusalem with car attacks against innocent Israeli passers-by. However, violence could spread to Israel and the rest of the Occupied Territories following Hamdan's death.
What is more, tomorrow will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, and many ceremonies are planned across the West Bank, which could further inflame Palestinians.