Thousands of people flocked to the Galilee town of Kafr Kanna on Friday afternoon to attend the main rally marking the 10th anniversary of the October 2000 events, which left 13 Israeli Arabs dead.
The participants carried flags of Palestine, pictures of the riots' victims and signs reading, "We shall not forget, we shall not forgive," "With blood and fire we'll redeem our martyrs," and "Defense Minister Barak, how many have you murdered so far?"
As the rally concluded, some 20 participants hurled stones at Israeli vehicles. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The violence was stopped following the intervention of the village dignitaries. Police forces were deployed in the area to prevent any disturbances.
The rally was attended by the entire Israeli Arab leadership, Knesset members, the victims' relatives, extreme left-wing activist Tali Fahima and actor and director Mohammad Bakri.
The brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Hameisi, addressed the rally's participants, saying that "60 years have passed and the Arab population is still in the midst of an existence struggle. We shall not withdraw. We will always remain on this land."
Hundreds attend rally (Photo: Ido Erez)
The event was held on the backdrop of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's latest statements on a land exchange. "I'm telling Lieberman, the one who says that the Arabs must be transferred, that it won't work. We own the land, we are the salt of the earth, you go back to Russia," said Hameisi, who lost his brother Rifat a decade ago.
'There will be no transfer'
Muhammad Zeidan, head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, addressed the foreign minister's remarks as well.
"I get the feeling that Lieberman will lead the State to destruction," he said. "The same Lieberman who views us as enemies, we say to him today: 'You fool, if you think we live like in 1948, you're wrong. We are the ones making the decisions and we have decided there will be no transfer. If you don't like it, it’s your problem.'"
Ziedan turned to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him, "Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas comes before negotiations with Israel. The negotiations you are holding are futile. About a million and a half Palestinians live in Israel. If you have to choose between peace which does not maintain the rights of the Palestinian people and withdrawing from the negotiations, we call on you to quit these talks."
Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) told Ynet during the rally that "the failure to put the criminals on trial was a sort of dead checking."
According to Tibi, "The level of racism in Israel has increased over the past decade." He called on the State to indict the officers and policemen responsible for the killing.
His fellow party member, MK Talab El-Sana, said that "the Arab public is renewing its commitment to the victims of the October events. It will not forget and not forgive and persecute the murderers and those who sent them until they pay the price for their crimes."
'Arab public renewing commitment to victims' (Photo: Ido Erez)
El-Sana warned against the eruption of another intifada, "as the circumstances are repeating themselves, both in the diplomatic arena – the failure of the negotiations, the ongoing Zionist attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque, the police's hostile perception of the Arab public, the distress and disappointment among the Arab public, and the extreme-rightist and aggressive government ruling Israel."
He called on the Palestinians to work for internal peace and unite against "the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Yishai government."
Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh said, "For 10 years not only has nothing been done, but the situation has worsened. The serious discrimination policy has become worse in all government, and especially in the current one.
"Political persecution and racist statements against the Arabs have become the Israeli regime's main line. The policy does not belong to one person, but is shared by the entire government."
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