‘Like a War Zone’: Five Israeli Arabs Recount Living in Fear Without Police Protection

They describe an intolerable reality, “like a war” amid rising violence in Israel’s Arab communities. They tell of their fear about going outside as a result of shootings, and of their moments of despair. But the wave of protests in the Arab community against what they say is the failure by the police to deal with the violence also represents a moment of hope from their standpoint.

Afif Yusef.Amir Levy

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Afif Yusef

“We hear gunshots in the middle of the night, mainly at night, even from nearby communities. From my standpoint, the murders and violence are exceptional and have crossed all lines. Human beings have no value. It doesn’t matter how they try to present it to the outside. Only people from within the communities can understand how serious the situation is.

“Maybe it’s convenient for people to label Arab society, but the fact is that we’re all protesting here – where these things are happening – in the hope that it will reach the people who need to hear it. We have to show that all of us have had it up to here with the situation. You can’t always throw the ball back to society as a whole. The establishment has to understand that we need its cooperation before something happens, not after. Arresting protesters won’t help. The police have to invest their energy in solving the cases of violence.

“According to [our] religion, it is absolutely forbidden to murder and there’s also a state and the law. Even if the state discounts us, we can’t give up on the possibility of resolving things peacefully, certainly if it saves human life. Even if the law has given up on us, we won’t give up on the law.”