Israeli Arabs have always viewed blocking a major road as a recipe for face-to-face clashes with the police and the security forces. Almost exactly 19 years ago, this perspective received painful confirmation when Israeli police opened fire at Arabs who were blocking roads and burning tires at key intersections in the Galilee and the Wadi Ara region, in what is known in Hebrew as “the events of October 2000.”
>> Election results are in. Subscribe now – save 30%
This past week, the scenes were completely different. There were no young masked men, wearing keffiyehs and rocks in hand; no smoke rising from piles of trash and burning tires; and no policemen aiming their rifles and firing both live ammunition and sponge-tipped bullets.
The past week’s pictures showed whole families – fathers, mothers and children. They showed both old and young, including students of all ages. Everyone was marching with uncovered faces, holding signs protesting the violence in the Arab community, and turning out on major roads and intersections in large numbers.
>> Read more: ‘Like a war zone’: Five Israeli Arabs recount living in fear without police protection ■ A police force of and for all citizens | Opinion ■ An Israeli problem | Haaretz Editorial
It happened on Thursday in Majdal Krum and on nearby Route 85, and it happened Friday and Saturday at dozens of other locations in the Galilee, the Wadi Ara region and the Negev. There was no apparent fear of conflict with the police. Quite the opposite.