Some 300 people rallied in Haifa Monday evening in protest of the arrest of well-known Arab figures Omar Said and Ameer Makhoul on suspicion of contacting a Hezbollah agent.
Several Arab Knesset members attended the rally as well, including Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka, Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh and MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al).
"We won't let (Israel) turn our political activities into security offenses," said Zahalka.
Haifa rally (Photo: Avishag Shear-Yeshuv)
"This is bigger than Omar and Ameer – this is an attempt to delimit us in a political ghetto, but we will breach it. There are mass demonstrations planned,' he said.
The Israeli government, MK El-Sana added, "Cannot declare indirect negotiations with the Palestinian on one hand, and an outright war on Israeli Arabs on the other.
"Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin should not be the one handling the government's policy regarding the Arab minority. It's not a crime to be a Palestinian in Israel," he said.
The two suspects' wives, Janan Abdu Makhoul and Ina'em Said, told Ynet that they were certain their husbands were strong enough to deal with the charges.
The Mossawa Centre, an advocacy group for Israeli Arabs, has issued a call for all Arab rights groups to protest the arrest.
Makhoul's brother, former Knesset Member Issam Makhoul, said that "the way he was arrested – two weeks after the warrant was issued – says something about the drama (authorities) wanted to create, and proves our concern, that by issuing a gag order and barring him from seeing his attorney, they wanted to create an alibi and trample democracy.
"Ameer is strong," he continued. "He will face this onslaught head-on, and at the end of the day, those facing justice would be the authorities, which chose to act this way – not him."