Palestinian citizens of Israel escalated their protests against the police and government on Thursday by bringing sections of the country’s busiest highway to a crawl as they drove in a slow convoy towards Jerusalem for a major demonstration.
It was the latest in a series of high-stakes confrontations by Israel’s large Palestinian minority with the authorities to express their anger at police inaction over a tide of violence that has swept their communities. More than 70 lives have been claimed so far this year.
Over the weekend, Palestinians in Israel took over numerous road junctions to block traffic, causing long tailbacks, as they sought to bring their campaign to the attention of a seemingly indifferent Israeli Jewish public.
Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens – descended from those who avoided expulsion during Israel’s creation in 1948 – comprise a fifth of the country’s population. However, this year, they account for as much as 80 percent of the country’s murders – up from 5 percent 20 years ago.
According to figures from the Aman Centre, which campaigns against violence in Palestinian society in Israel, September was the deadliest month ever: 13 Palestinian citizens were killed in criminal activity.
An investigation by the Haaretz newspaper this week found that the police had solved less than a third of murders in Palestinian communities in Israel this year – half its clear-up rate in Jewish communities.