Israel's Arabs protest at Yassin assassination

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The Independent Online

Arabs living in Israel dressed in black, and hoisting black banners, Palestinian flags, along with a wheelchair and coffin, marched in their hundreds in the streets of Nazareth yesterday to protest against the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Arabs living in Israel dressed in black, and hoisting black banners, Palestinian flags, along with a wheelchair and coffin, marched in their hundreds in the streets of Nazareth yesterday to protest against the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Arab parties, Arab Knesset members, and Arab heads of local councils marched in the Israeli city which has a large Arab population and police stayed away to avoid clashes.

Fathia Abdel Fattah, who was among the 2,000 demonstrators, said: "I am a secular, Yassin is religious, but I look at him as a Palestinian leader. His assassination is an act of humiliation."

The outbreak of the 1987-1993 first Intifada and the second one in September 2000 has strengthened a sense of national identity among Arabs as Palestinians.

In October, 2000, Arabs in Israel rioted in the major cities and villages protesting at Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many of the million Arab population inside Israel dislike being called "Arab Israelis'' preferring to call themselves "the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel."

Not all Arabs living in Israel identify with the Palestinian cause.

The mayor of Shafa Amr, Arsan Yassin believes that the Arabs should not make common cause with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This view is also common among the Druze, the Bedouins, Christians, and some Islamic tiny sects and also among some of the younger generation.

But Yusri Khaizeran, an academic and a Druze from Yarka condemned the assassination of Sheikh Yassin. "I am against the ideology of Hamas. I am against the suicide bombing attacks. But assassination of Sheikh Yassin has humiliated every Palestinian wherever he lives."



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