By Thakira Desai
With international human rights bodies focussed on the recent action taken by Israeli authorities against protesting Gazan residents, fresh arrests of Palestinian demonstrators have been reported. According to reports by the Mossawa Centre in Palestine, Israeli forces arrested at least ten protesters, including the director of the centre, Jafar Farah, on Friday. The Mossawa Centre is an advocacy group for Arab citizens within Israel. Mossawa, which is loosely translated as ‘equality’, makes use of both legislative and legal advocacy means to work for equal rights for Arab citizens in Israel. The centre said Israeli police responded violently against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Haifa, in northern Israel. The protest follows a protracted six-week Great March of Return demonstration in the Gaza Strip and the death of at least 116 Palestinian protesters.
The head of Mossawa Centre’s international office, Sara Gunning, explained that the demonstration was in protest of violence enacted against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Monday, in which over 60 protesters were killed and a further 2,400 others injured.
The Haifa demonstration included activists, both Arab and Jewish members of the community and members of the Mossawa Centre.
Gunning said that while multiple lawyers have attended to the protesters, none of the protesters have been released as yet.
“No one has been released as yet from yesterday’s protest and I know that there were multiple lawyers, both at the protest and at the police station afterwards, trying to work on this.
“Several people were hospitalised after being interrogated. People were injured after they were arrested; either while they were being arrested or after they were brought to the police station for interrogation,” she added.
Israeli police can be seen clamping down on protesters in a video posted by Najwan Berekdar and shared by Mossawa Centre:
Protesters were demanding an end to the use of force by the Israeli defence Force (IDF) against Palestinian protesters, who are separated from the 1948 territories by a fence.
This after Israeli authorities stationed 100 snipers in anticipation of the Great March of return, which began on March 30.
Gunning further noted that the protest was not organised by one group, but represented numerous voices within the 1948 borders.
“Several days ago, after it was clear what was happening in Gaza, the Arab High Follow-up Committee, which is an organisation which represents Arab citizens in Israel, but is not affiliated to any party, called for a general strike and for on-going protests across the country,” she continued.
Given Israel’s continued use of force against Palestinian protesters, Gunning said that while there is currently no certainty about what the way forward for Palestinians is, it is likely that more demonstrations will ensue.