Following the killing of 22-year old Kheir al-Din Hamdan, by Israeli police in Kfar Kana village in the Galilee on Friday, Israeli forces have moved into the area, attacking the thousands of mourners at the victim’s funeral, and again attacking protests that took place throughout the area on Sunday.Protesters on Sunday marched through the streets of Kfar Kana, Nazareth, Lod and other Palestinian towns located inside what is now Israel. They chanted and carried signs reading, The crime â?? being an Arab, the punishment â?? death’ and ‘Israel is a terrorist state’.
The killing of Hamdan Friday followed weeks of provocation by Israeli forces and settlers, including numerous invasions and desecrations of the al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, by Israeli settlers and soldiers.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose government consists of a number of hardliners who have called for the forced displacement of the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel, made a statement on Sunday that he will send in more troops to put down the protests in the Galilee.
He was quoted by the Israeli channel Arutz Sheva as telling his cabinet, ‘We will not tolerate disturbances and riots. We will act against rock throwers, road blockers and those calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of Israel. Those who do not respect Israeli law will be punished very seriously.â?
The Galilee is a mainly Christian area, where Palestinian Christians have lived continuously for the last 2,000 years â?? it is known among Christians as the residence of Jesus, and is thus considered a holy area by both Christians and Muslims (who revere Jesus as a prophet). Since the creation of Israel on the land of historic Palestine in 1948, many of the indigenous Palestinians were forced off their land into refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. But many remained, and these Palestinian citizens of Israel make up around one-fifth of Israel’s total population.
In addition to the protests Sunday, Palestinian businesses closed their doors as part of a 24-hour strike to protest the Israeli shooting of Hamdan, and the continued harsh, excessive and discriminatory treatment against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
There are over 50 laws currently on the books that directly discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, including in the areas of property ownership, immigration, family unification, residency status, job preferences and discriminatory housing and licensing practices. Palestinian citizens of Israel have long challenged their status as ‘second class citizens’ under Israeli law, and have called for equal rights for all Palestinians â?? both those living inside what is now Israel, and those living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.