JERUSALEM (JTA) — Tens of thousands of Arab Israelis and their supporters marched in protest of Israeli policies to mark the anniversary of October 2000 riots.
Thursday’s march was the centerpiece of an Arab sector general strike to mark the ninth anniversary of riots that broke out at the start of the al-Aksa intifada during which 13 Arabs were killed by Israeli police.
It was the third time Israel’s Arab population has gone on strike to mark the anniversary.
Nearly every Arab city and town, as well as Arab neighborhoods in mixed cities such as Haifa and Jaffa, closed municipal offices, businesses and schools. A protest march was set to take place Thursday afternoon in the lower Galilee town of Arabeh; foreign diplomats representing 10 countries indicated that they would participate.
"Our strike is a clear and lucid cry against the racism and discrimination that have become mainstream both on the streets and within the government," said Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi of the United Arab List-Ta’al Party.
"It is my opinion that a strike is not the suitable means, since its repercussions harm the citizens," Avishay Braverman, Israel’s minister for minority affairs, told Ynet. "On the other hand, the Arab public’s right to a democratic protest is indisputable, and I am certain the Israel Police will conduct itself with understanding and sensitivity during the day."