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October Now

October Now

Between the end of October and the beginning of November, a violent confrontation occurred in the Arab village of Al-Buqei`a in northern Israel between the residents and the Israel Police. During the course of the incident, the police fired live ammunition. A total of some 40 people were injured, including both policemen and residents, and two of the injured – a citizen shot in the chest with live ammunition and a policeman – were left in a serious condition.

The incident began when masked individuals, Druze Arabs from the village, vandalized a chicken coop belonging to Ronen Asraf, a Jewish resident of the neighboring Jewish community of New Peki’in, which was established on land belonging to the village of Al-Buqei`a. The background to this vandalism was the suspicion on the part of the residents of the Arab village that a facility installed in the chicken coop might be a cellular antenna.

In response to the incident, the police entered the village at 2:00 am, with a large force of Border Guard police and personnel from the Special Patrol Unit (the total number of police personnel was estimated at approximately 200). On entering the village, the police began to throw teargas canisters and shoot rubber bullets. Serious clashes developed between the residents and the police lasting for one day, during which period the police fired live ammunition. One policeman fired live ammunition at a resident, injuring him in the stomach. The police arrested a large number of residents of the village, and the residents of the village captured a policewoman from the Special Patrol Unit; she was later released following negotiations between the sides. The agreement was that in return for her release, all the detainees from the village would be freed. The events caused extensive damage to property, including dozens of vehicles parked along the streets of the village.

These events became known as the events of October 2007, an allusion to the events of October 2000. Once again, the events raise important arguments regarding the attitude of the police toward the Arab citizens of Israel. These arguments have been raised in the past by the Arab population, but they are strengthened by the events in Al-Buqei`a. We shall examine some of the key arguments in this report.