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Disrupting traffic in north Photo: Ido Beker
Disrupting traffic in north Photo: Ido Beker
 
 

Druze, Circassians protest State's 'discrimination'

Dozens of drivers disrupt traffic in North, threaten 'intifada' if State does not stop 'policy of contempt' towards sector, meet financial demands

Sharon Roffe – Ofir
Published: 07.02.09, 13:14 / Israel News

Dozens of Druze and Circassians protested against what they called the State's continued discrimination against them on Thursday by driving slowly and disrupting traffic from Akko to Rosh Pina in the north.

 

"The way we are treated is part of the State's policies of contempt. We will continue to step up our protest," said chairman of the Forum of Heads of Druze and Circassian Local Authorities, Salah Fares.

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The council heads are demanding the erasure of their municipalities' debts, the creation of employment for their constituents, and additional funds.

 

The protest's organizers threatened a full-fledged "intifada" (uprising) if their demands are not be met.

 

Earlier this week similar demonstrations were held at central intersections in the Galilee region.

 

"We are citizens of the State of Israel. This is our only country, but unfortunately we are not granted the same rights as the other citizens," Fares added.

 

"As far as we're concerned, this is a dark day for the entire Israeli nation. It's time that the Israeli government wakes up and stop this policy of contempt towards the Druze and Circassian population." 


'Dark day for Israel.' Druze convoy in North (Photo: Ido Beker)

  

On Wednesday Ynet reported that the Finance Ministry and Dexia Israel, which extends credit to local councils, recently reached an agreement to increase credit lines to Druze councils and to transfer NIS 53 million ($13.5 million) to them.

 

Fares dismissed the report, saying, "These leaks from the Finance Ministry are a travesty, and are indicative of the continued policy of contempt."

 

Last week the Druze sector held a violent protest outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. Following the rally, during which seven police officers were injured, a number of Druze council heads met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

 

Sajur Local Council Head Hamud Jabar said Netanyahu had promised to appeal to the Finance Ministry in an attempt to secure the funds they requested, despite the current financial crisis.

  

"The prime minister said he feels like a brother to the Druze people and promised that despite the difficult financial situation, a family helps its members," Fares said after the meeting.

  

"I explained to him that we serve together, live together, and sometimes die together, and what can we do, we are asking to be equal. We demand a schedule for the steps to be taken, not just niceties."

 

Netanyahu heard testimonies regarding water and electricity shortages, as well as insufficient funds for the payment of municipal employee wages. 

 

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