NIF-grantees Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together) and Adalah — the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel have launched campaigns to protest the systematic arrests of Arab political activists across Israel. Last week Omdim Beyachad activists rallied outside of the Be’er Sheva and Haifa police stations to protest a wave of recent arrests of Palestinian citizen protesters and police violence against them, designed to intimidate and silence them. Omdim Beyachad sees the arrests as an attempt to stifle protest and freedom of expression of Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Over the past month, Israeli Police has been waging a campaign called “Operation Law and Order,” essentially designed to harass and arrest activists protesting the evictions of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and other issues.
Last month, Sally Abed, a member of Omdim Beyachad’s leadership steering committee, was arrested by the police during a peaceful, non-violent demonstration in Jaffa against evictions of Arab families in the Ajami neighborhood. According to Abed, plainclothes police grabbed her violently by the hair and interrogated her in the police station for allegedly assaulting the police. She was released the same night to house arrest for five days, however no charges were ever brought against her.
Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf wrote to Israel’s Attorney General and Chief of Police, “Israeli police use arrests in Arab society as a tool of deterrence vis-a-vis Arab citizens. This tool is now being employed on the basis of racial profiling of a particular population.”