They called for an immediate end to the fighting and linked it to the upcoming elections in Israel. They chanted slogans in support of Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, whose assassination marked the opening of the operation in the Strip.
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The largest protest took place in Umm al-Fahm in which the Head of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and MK Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) also participated.
The protesters condemned Jabari's assassination, praising the head of Hamas' military wing calling out, "Jabari, you son of al-Qassam (Brigades), Gaza will not be humiliated." They also called for an end to the war.
Umm al-Fahm Mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan spoke at the event, saying: "I praise the Gaza Strip residents' strong stance. The war is a competition for who will receive more seats in the Knesset, but the Gaza Strip's response destroyed the aspirations of Israel, which is willing to earn money at the expense of bloodshed".
Raed Salah in Friday's protest (Photo: Al-Arab website)
In his speech, Salah called upon Gaza Strip residents to "be patient in their resistance and fight against the occupation until the Palestinian nation unites. That is the only thing that will bring victory."
Sabih Abu Mukh, head of Baqa al-Gharbiya's popular committee, participated in a protest in his village. "We are against the killing of children, women and senior citizens and for quiet on both sides. The war won't achieve goals. Only through understanding, peace and independence will there be calm.
"Unfortunately, when Israel sees calm in the region, it goes to war. This is a political move, especially in light of the fact that election day is nearing, and because the Palestinian nation wanted its country to be recognized. The Israeli government intended to disrupt the Palestinian appeal to the UN in their request to be recognized as a country".
Abu Mukh added, "We hope that the government of Israel will weigh this issue seriously and won't expand the war but declare an immediate ceasefire for the benefit of both sides".
MK Aghbaria said, "Before each elections, Barak and Netanyahu try to show that Israel is the political victim and they cause provocations in order to reach a state of war, but in the end, they are the losers".
MK Zahalka (Balad) said, "Barak wants to pass the election threshold at the expense of dead Palestinian bodies. We must remember that anyone who created a war prior to elections, lost and this time too, Barak and Netanyahu will not achieve their goals and will lose in the elections".
Zahalka said that there is great anger amongst the Arab public regarding this operation of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip, and called to exacerbate the protests against the war and organize additional protests and gatherings in various Arab communities.
"The world must restrain the Israeli government, punish it and place sanctions upon it in order to create deterrence and stop Netanyahu and Barak's bloody madness", said Zahalka.
"This is a malicious war". Hani Mahmid, an Umm al-Fahm resident, told Ynet: "I support the Gaza residents' stance and call upon them not to surrender in the face of the attack. We have a government run by criminals and they have no value for human life. What interests them is maintaining their seats in the government".
An Arab Likud member and resident of The Triangle told Ynet: "I am very disappointed in Netanyahu's decision, he is responsible for the entire war. I wanted to support him in the elections, but after I saw people being killed from both sides, I changed my mind and decided not to vote for the Likud".
Majid Hatib, a resident of the Arab town of Qalansawe, said: "The government of Israel thinks that it demolished the whole of Hamas because it assassinated Jabari, but it is mistaken. A move like this can strengthen Hamas and create more than one Jabari. There can be severe consequences for Israel in all regards."