Army Uses Israeli Arabs as Shield: MK
|Thursday, August 10,2006 00:00|
|By IslamOnline.net + News Agencies|
An Israeli Arab Member of Knesset has accused the Israeli army of using villages and towns predominantly populated by Israeli Arabs as "shields" to escape the barrages of rockets fired by the Lebanese Hizbullah resistance group.
"During a short visit to offer condolences to the families of victims killed in Hizbullah’s rocket attacks, I saw Israeli tanks shelling (south) Lebanon from the two towns of Arab Al-Aramisha and Tarshiha, which are predominantly populated Arabs," MK Sheikh Abbas Zako said in a statement, a copy of which was received by IslamOnline.net.
Zako stressed that the Israeli tanks are positioned just next to the houses of citizens.
"Hizbullah’s rockets are only a response to shelling by tanks positioned inside the towns," he said.
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah had apologized to Israeli Arab families at the very beginning of war for the collateral damage caused by the group’s rockets, calling the victims "martyrs."
Israeli army has been accused of using Palestinian civilians as human shields in an operation in northern Gaza.
According to the Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, Israeli soldiers seized control of two buildings in the town of Beit Hanun and used six residents, two of them minors, as human shields.
It said they held them on the staircases of the two buildings and at the entrance to rooms, in which the soldiers positioned themselves, for some twelve hours.
During this time, there were intense exchanges of gunfire between the soldiers and Palestinian fighters.
The Israeli lawmaker saw the deployment of tanks at the entrances and centers of Arab towns and villages as a sign of continued bias against Israeli Arabs by their government.
"This demonstrates the fact that the blood of Israeli Jews is thicker than that of Israeli Arabs," he fumed.
Zako called on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to immediately move these tanks from Arab towns and villages, and halt the Israeli aggressions on the Lebanese people.
Up to 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have been killed since the start of the war on July 12. A total of 98 Israelis, including 58 servicemen, have also been killed.
Last week, three Arab members of Knesset yelled out insults against Peretz, who was briefing the lawmakers on the war developments.
Among the insults heaped on Peretz was "Angel of Death".
Israeli Arabs, who make up nearly a fifth of the population, are descendants of those who stayed when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Zionist gangs in1948, when Israel was founded on the rubble of Palestine.
They accuse the government of failing to build bomb shelters in their towns and villages as it did in other areas.
Relations between Israel’s Jews and Arabs have long been difficult, with Arabs complaining of discrimination at work place.
The Knesset has further made life unbearable for Israeli Arabs married to Palestinians by adopting a law denying the latter the right to get an Israeli residency to live with their spouses.
The Israeli High Court of Justice added insult to injury by upholding the controversial law, which has been dismissed by rights groups as racist and discriminatory.
Despite the fact that Arabs make up a third of the 48 people killed by rocket fire on northern Israel, the sympathies of some Israeli Arabs lie very much with Hizbullah.
"Hizbullah has raised up our heads and lifted our spirits", Ali Manna told Reuters as he mourned two nephews killed in a rocket attack by the Lebanese resistance group.
And they admire the fact that Hizbullah has proved a tenacious rival and is till holding out against the highly sophisticated Israeli military machine.
"For the first time there is a sense of regained dignity," said Rawda Atallah, head of the Arab Cultural Association in Haifa, a mixed Jewish-Arab city that has been one of the main targets of Hizbullah attacks.
"They feel for the first time a group is resisting and standing steadfast in the face of the Israeli army," she said.
"Hizbullah’s popularity has increased immensely among the Arabs in Israel."
-IslamOnline.net + News Agencies; additional Reporting by Mohammad Gamal Arafa