Israeli Arabs and Jews protest house demolitions

Arabs, leftist Jews protest demolition of illegal Arab buildings.

AFP, Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Arab protest in Jerusalem (illustrative)
Arab protest in Jerusalem (illustrative)
Flash 90

Israeli Arabs and leftist Jews marched arm-in-arm through central Tel Aviv on Saturday night, calling for the government to stop demolishing Arab homes built illegally, claiming the government rarely grants Arabs permits to build.

An AFP journalist said around 1,000 protesters took part, many carrying banners in Hebrew and Arabic, reading "Jews and Arabs together."

Leading the march were opposition lawmakers from the left-wing Meretz party and from the Joint List of Arab parties.

Israeli Arabs say Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government has cracked down on illegal Arab construction in response to anger at the inequality of demolitions in Israel.

Israeli sources counter that while illegal Arab buildings are a prevalent phenomenon and are largely ignored, the much smaller number of illegal Jewish buildings are almost always destroyed. In addition, leftist NGOs often present "claims" against the land upon which legal Jewish buildings were built, claims heard by the Supreme Court even though the organizations have no standing. Often, there is no actual claimant to the land.

Tensions flared last month when police flooded the illegal Arab village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel to supervise demolitions.

Terrorist Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, 50, rammed into and killed 34-year old Sergeant Major Erez Levy. Al-Qiyan was then eliminated by another officer.

Al-Qiyan was active in the Israeli Islamic Movement and may have been influenced by the Islamic State group. However, Umm al-Hiran residents denied the terrorist's jihadist links, claiming he was a respected teacher.

"Members of our government are proud to establish alternative facts," Meretz MP Michal Rozin told the demonstrators on Saturday. "They do this not from ignorance. They are building a narrative of fear, racism and hatred of the other in a deliberate and sinister fashion which serves their political ends."

In a December video address, Netanyahu linked the order to dismantle the Amona outpost with the need to deal with illegal Arab construction in Israel.

"The law must be equitable; the same law which obliges vacating Amona also obliges removing illegal construction in other parts of our country," he said. "Therefore I have given orders to speed up demolition of illegal construction... in all parts of the country and we shall do that in the coming

Amona's demolition began on Thursday and has not yet been fully completed.