A demonstration by Israeli Arabs against the IDF operation to locate three kidnapped Israeli teenagers turned violent on Friday afternoon, as five people were injured.
The protesters, who gathered in the Wadi Ara region in north-central Israel, waved Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags and blocked roads, while calling for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and for the release of all terrorists who are serving time in Israeli prisons.
Police officers who tried to disperse the demonstrators used tear gas, and the protesters responded by throwing rocks at the officers.
Two officers were among the five people who were injured in the demonstration, reported Channel 2 News. At least one protester was arrested.
Among those participating in the protest was MK Mohammed Barakeh of the far left Communist Hadash party.
"This demonstration is against the violence of the IDF and against the illegal arrests and illegal activities of the IDF in the territories," he declared.
Operation Brother’s Keeper, said Barakeh, “comes to solve the problem by force. Netanyahu prefers bodies of hostages over living hostages.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, said in response to the violence that all those demonstrators who expressed support for the kidnapping of soldiers “should be treated as terrorists in every respect.”
Liberman added that he intends to speak with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and ask him to ensure that “the police will act decisively and swiftly to arrest the instigators and bring them to justice to the full extent of the law.”
He added that Yisrael Beytenu’s ministers will demand on Sunday that the Cabinet meet to discuss what he called "the dangerous radicalization in the Arab Israeli leadership and how to deal with it in a comprehensive and difficult manner."
Friday’s violence follows remarks by MK Ahmed Tibi, a Deputy Knesset Speaker, who said on Friday that Hamas is not a terror organization, 15 days after two Hamas terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teenagers and in the midst of a rain of rocket fire on Israel from the Hamas-enclave Gaza.
Tibi provided an interview to Hamas's Palestine magazine Friday, where he alleged that the organization is "not a terror organization."
Tibi's remarks are reminiscent of those of MK Hanin Zoabi, who alleged last week that the Hamas terrorists responsible for the abduction "are not terrorists," and that the kidnapping is a "last resort" for Palestinian Arabs frustrated by their lives.
A series of legal actions have been initiated against Zoabi for the remarks, with several ministers and MKs arguing that the remarks are a breach of laws banning Knesset members from identifying with terrorists or inciting against Israel.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)