Update: pro-Palestinian march ends in violence
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A pro-Palestinian demonstration by Arab Israelis in northern Israel yesterday was ruined by violent confrontations between rightwing nationalists, the participants and the police. Our Observers sent photos and video footage.
Yesterday one of our Observers, Amal Ziada, told us she was on her way to a peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstration by Arab Israelis in northern Israel. The event went along as planned, with speeches and a symbolic release of black balloons. But as they were leaving, Amal says, the Arabs were confronted by a group of right-wing Israelis with banners. Tension escalated and Israeli police intervened - firing tear gas and "voice bombs," according to the demonstrators. Our Observers sent photos and video footage.
Before chaos broke out: the crowd listened to speeches, including one given by Makbula Nassar.
Black balloons were let off to commemorate the Nakba (which means "catastrophe" in Arabic.).
Right-wing protesters came to demonstrate against the rally. The signs read: "You have to know where you come from and where you're going" and "It's not a legend, but a right to live and breathe" (a reference to Theodor Herzl's famous comment "If you really want It, it won't stay a legend" about Israel).
The police arrived, some on horseback.
The shell of one of the detonated "voice bombs," nonlethal weapons designed to make a loud noise but not injure.
A man injured in the turmoil who was later admitted to hospital.
Photos from Makbula
Video filmed by Muhammad Craim. Posted 9 May 08
"I feel that the Israeli police really want to hurt us"
When we spoke to Amal yesterday she was on her way to the gathering.
The Israeli police were shooting at us, people were running everywhere. Why do they treat us like this? We've never had a military fight with the state. I feel that they really want to hurt us, whatever we do. This was a peaceful protest! It's a déjà vu of October 2000 [when clashes broke out between the Israeli police and pro-Palestine protesters]. The Israeli government should be ashamed of themselves."
"We may die, but Palestine will live!"
Makbula Nassar was one of the speakers in the village of Saffuriyya yesterday, where events are being held ahead of the annual May 15 ‘Nakba' Day, on which Arabs commemorate the displacement of Palestinians that followed the creation of Israel in 1948. Demonstrators say the event was authorised by the Israeli government.
After the rally, there were about 1,000 of us left. We left the area and started heading towards the woods. There we came across Israeli right-wingers shouting anti-Arab insults at us. They were protected by the Israeli police. "We may die, but Palestine will live!" we shouted back. Everything turned to chaos. The police started firing at us, and even used "voice bombs" (nonlethal devices designed to make a loud explosion to intimidate crowds). People got hurt. All this, and we weren't even armed!"