Israel: Palestinians arrested, beaten for protesting

August 24, 2014

As a Palestinian political activist living in present-day Israel, Tareq Yassin, 23, has grown accustomed to racist intimidation and threats of violence.

Yassin, secretary of the left-wing Hadash political party’s student wing at the University of Haifa, has been repeatedly targeted for his activism. Yet last month was the first time he was subjected to vigilante violence by right-wing Israelis.

He was punched in the head during a protest in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s ongoing military offensive has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians. “I was attacked by a group of Israeli right-wing racists,” Yassin recalled.

Since Israel began its latest war on Gaza early last year, Palestinian activists in Israel say the political climate has become even more frightening than usual as the country spirals into a violently racist frenzy.

Lynch mobs have targeted Palestinians and left-wing Israelis in places like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Palestinian citizens of Israel across the country have been beaten during protests, attacked by vigilantes, threatened on social media outlets and arrested by police.

Dozens of Palestinians across Israel have also been fired from their jobs for posting content critical of the war on Gaza on social media outlets such as Facebook.

In most cases, employers fired Palestinian employees who posted political content after being threatened with a boycott by local Jewish Israeli communities.

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and live in cities, towns and villages across the country. Adalah Legal Center, a Haifa-based Palestinian advocacy group, said Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to more than 50 discriminatory laws that stifle their political expression and limit their access to state resources, including land.

[Abridged from Electronic Intifada.]

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