Dozens of protests against the judicial reforms took place throughout the country on Saturday, August 2, marking the 34th consecutive week. However, this week was different than most. The central demonstration at Kaplan Square in Tel Aviv as well as additional protests specifically focused on expressing solidarity with Arab society in the face of spiking crime and violence, following two political murders in Arab communities that occurred last week. The protests were held in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva, as well as at intersections and other towns throughout Israel.
Last week saw the murder of the director of the Tira municipality, Dr. Abed El Rahman Kashua, and a quadruple murder in the village of Abu Snan, where one of the victims was a candidate for council leadership.
Maamun Abd Elhai, the mayor of the Arab town of Tira, spoke at a protest held at Kaplan Square in Tel Aviv:
"He was 55 years old. A doctor. Husband of Salwa. Father of five. He worked with me for 10 years. During the day, he was with me at the municipality, and at night, he helped families in need. A man of people and peace. On Monday, near the police station in Tira, he was driving with two friends when a car stopped next to them and started shooting. The driver who was injured tried to escape to the police station, but there was no one there who could help him.
Abed did not survive. And his murderers are still roaming free. He tried to protect the residents of the city and uphold the rule of law, and the families of criminals murdered him. In front of the police station that was supposed to protect us. Our children, our property, our lives. Blood is flowing in our streets – and the racist Israeli government is dismantling law enforcement, cutting budgets for education and increasing unemployment, which essentially strengthens criminal organizations in the Arab sector.
I have been a mayor for 15 years. Arab society has been suffering from neglect and discrimination regardless. But this is the worst government. Instead of strengthening law enforcement, schools, colleges and employment, it weakens them. It's not a mistake, it's policy.
When the Israeli governments decided to deal with crime families in Netanya, they succeeded. It was Israel's crime capital, and now it's safe. Why? Because the Israeli government decided. Do you want to tell me that the police and the Shin Bet can't do anything? When the state wants to catch someone, it can reach South America and Russia. But they can't catch a child who shoots near a police station here in the State of Israel. How does that sound?
The only conclusion I come to is that this is a deliberate decision. During my 15 years as the mayor of Tira, I always believed I was a monarch. But with great sorrow, I understand today that it's a decision, a policy, to keep us preoccupied with blood. They don't want to ensure our security. A racist who doesn't want us in the country, who hates Arabs, will protect us? This government wants us to remain immersed in blood. They want us to leave the land. But I have news for them. This is also our land. We were born here and will be buried here. It's also the land of our forefathers.
And to you, the protesters who have been demonstrating for months, I say: well done on your determined struggle against attempts to undermine the Supreme Court against the police takeover. Have no doubt – the possibility of violence in Arab society and the police takeover stem from the same place, and they have the same goal: fascism. We must join hands, Jews and Arabs, and fight together for democracy, for life and for a future where children live in peace and security."
At the main protest in Tel Aviv, speeches were also delivered by Moshe Radman, one of the leaders of the protest against judicial reform, Hadas Meiri, a member of the national religious movement and a former Likud voter, and Salman Rania, of the headquarters for the Druze sector of the protest movement. The demonstration was organized by Professor Shaked Barzilai, and singer Eden Alene, who represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021, performed the national anthem.
In her remarks, Alene referred to the struggle for the proper investigation of the death of 4-year-old Raphael Edan, an Ethiopian Jewish child who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Netanya.
"To all my Ethiopian brothers and to Raphael's family, as someone who has won more than once, we are going to f*cking win,” she said.
This article was translated to English by Marina Levy.