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Palestinians in Israel strike after deadly Negev raid

News - Middle East

Palestinians in Israel protest in cities across the country after home demolition raid turned deadly in Um al Hiran.

Um al Hiran

Palestinians in Israel have launched a general strike a day after an Israeli raid on a Bedouin village in the Negev region turned fatal. 

The strike on Thursday was held in cities, towns and villages across Israel, with hundreds of Palestinians protesting in Um al Hiran, the village where police shot dead 47-year-old Yacoub Moussa Abu al-Qiyan in what they claim was a vehicular attack. 

The incident resulted in the death of police officer Erez Levi, who was hit by Qiyan's car.

Residents of the Um al Hiran claim he lost control of his vehicle when police opened fire on it while locals confronted security forces as they attempted to carry out home demolitions in the village. 

Israeli police claimed that Qiyan, a teacher, was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. The allegation has been roundly rejected by Um al Hiran residents and Palestinian politicians in Israel. 

Other demonstrations took place in Haifa, Acre, Nazareth and Jerusalem on Thursday.

Police also injured Palestinian politician Aymen Odeh of the Joint List, a coalition of mainly Arab parties and the third-largest bloc in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

'No clashes' 

"They attacked the MP and other people - demonstrators - with stun grenades, tear gas directly in people's faces," Odeh's aide, Anan Maalouf, told Israeli army radio.

"There was no car-ramming attack here. There were no clashes here between the demonstrators and police."

Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolitions of Bedouin homes they deem to have been built illegally.

However, building permits are nearly impossible to obtain, according to residents and activists, who say Jewish Israelis are given preferential treatment.

Israel plans to demolish the whole of Um Al Hiran and replace it with a Jewish village by the name of Hiran.

Um Al Hiran is just one of about 40 "unrecognised" Bedouin villages in Negev scheduled for demolition despite being home to tens of thousands of residents.

Because of their "unrecognised" status, many of them are denied access to electricity, water and other municipal services.

Earlier in January, Palestinian citizens of Israel announced a nationwide strike after Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian homes in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel.

These homes were also demolished on the pretext that they were built without a permit.

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and live throughout the country. Dozens of discriminatory laws stifle their political expression and their access to state resources, including land, according to Adalah Legal Centre for the Arab Minority in Israel. 

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