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This morning (Friday, 14 May 2021), I woke up to the news that thirty eight Palestinian youth were arrested during the night in Haifa. Some of them are minors, interrogated without parental accompaniment, while others with injuries and denied medical care. Lawyers from Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, have been waiting all night to meet with them, but as of this morning, they were denied to provide any legal consultation.
These last few days have been almost surreal in Haifa. I have never witnessed anything like this happening in my beloved city. For the second night in a row, about 200 Jewish settler extremists, calling themselves “The Citizens’ Army,” have stormed Haifa Palestinian neighborhoods. They are armed with bats and other weapons, many of them with military training background, and are highly organized. In the afternoon, small groups are seen entering buildings and marking with a red marker doors belonging to Palestinian residents. They have vandalized dozens of cars, attacked Palestinians in the streets, and attempted to break into the homes of Palestinians. Similar attacks have been carried out in other mixed cities, such as Lydd, Akka, Jerusalem.
Palestinian neighborhood and community representatives met yesterday to discuss protection tactics, because we have seen how the police not only hasn’t intervened to stop these attacks, they have enabled them and backed them. Instead of stopping the settlers’ attacks, the police attacked Palestinian protesters whose only crime was defending their homes.
After the first night, where we witnessed the lack of police action, some Israeli allies met with both the Mayor of Haifa and with the police. They basically told them there is nothing they can do.
We are not protected in our homes, towns, and cities, the violence is only escalating, Gaza is being attacked, children, women, and men are being killed, residents of Sheikh Jarrah are still facing forced expulsion, and the world remains silent, turning a blind eye.
The Israeli media is of course successfully portraying the Palestinian citizens as the instigators and hooligans in this equation, while ignoring almost completely the extremist settlers’ attacks. This only plays into the hands of Netanyahu who has repeatedly failed to form a government following the four elections held during the last year and a half. As the situation stands right now, he has yet again a big chance of forming a government.
Palestinian citizens in Yaffa, Akka, Haifa, Lydd, and other places are forming self-protection committees. Lawyers, physicians, psychologists, and people to patrol our neighborhoods to protect us from the vicious attacks we are witnessing these past few days (my own testimony from what has happened in Haifa is in my previous post.
We are calling for immediate international intervention to stop this madness. We have been left to fend for ourselves, completely unprotected. Act now.
And on a more personal note:
Friends who are speaking up, protesting, taking action, resisting: You are on the right side of justice.
‘Friends’ who are silent: your silence is deafening.
And don’t you dare ask me what you can do or that you feel helpless and there’s nothing you can do. There’s always something you can do. If you are ignorant of what is happening, educate yourself and start taking action. This is on you. You cannot say I didn’t know.