Israeli Arabs stage flash mob to highlight fatal shootings

Event organizers say demonstration in heart of Tel Aviv is attempt to raise awareness of rampant gang violence and shootings that have claimed the lives of 24 members of the community since the start of the year alone

Reuters|
At Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square, buzzing on a Saturday afternoon, around a dozen young people suddenly began to collapse slowly and theatrically to the ground, to the shock and confusion of Israelis out shopping or enjoying a coffee.
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  • "Did it scare you?" flash mob organizer Mohamed Jabarin asked those watching, and proceeded to explain the intention — to draw attention to a surge of shootings within Israel's Arab community and accuse police of failing to tackle the violence.
    4 View gallery
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    At least 24 Israeli Arab citizens have been shot dead this year, mostly by unknown assailants from within their towns and villages. The shootings, most often crime and gang-related, have become a defining issue for the 21% minority ahead of a March 23 national election.
    The largest expression of the frustration and anger felt by the community has come through anti-violence protests by tens of thousands in Umm al-Fahm and other Arab towns.
    But the flash mobs are an attempt to raise awareness of the shootings in the heart of Jewish Israeli towns.
    4 View gallery
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    Demonstrators accuse the police of turning a blind eye to the violence, which they say is a result of poverty and years of underinvestment in their minority communities.
    Police say they investigate all shootings and are continuing their work to gather illegal weapons, arrest all criminals and bring them to justice.
    "The only solution for the inaction of the police... is to take to the streets and mobilize the Palestinian Arab people," said Enab Mhajne, 19, at the Umm al-Fahm protest on Friday.
    Behind her protesters waved Palestinian flags, an unusual sight on the streets of Israel.
    4 View gallery
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    Young Israeli Arabs stage a flash mob in Tel Aviv to protest violence in their community
    (Photo: Screenshot)
    Israel's Arabs are mostly descended from the Arabs who lived under Ottoman and then British colonial rule before staying in Israel after the country's creation in 1948.
    Some Arab politicians have advocated working with right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the violence.
    Posters of Netanyahu have begun appearing in Arab neighborhoods of cities like Haifa with a slogan bearing the Arabic slogan "We are with you".
    4 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו ביקור קופת חולים כללית נצרת
    בנימין נתניהו ביקור קופת חולים כללית נצרת
    Netanyahu visits the city of Nazareth
    (Photo: EPA)
    Netanyahu, who many Arabs accuse of discrimination against their community, has pledged 100 million shekels ($30.24 million) to combat violence in Arab localities.
    But Luna Hasan, 24, another one of the flash mob organizers, said Arabs should focus on collective action to address the shootings, rather than rely on any one politician.
    "Arabs are represented in every aspect of the economy, in almost every aspect of life in Israel... we deserve safety, and we deserve protection," Hasan said.
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