FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: JAFAR FARAH
14 Arab Families Homeless Following Violence in Akka
HAIFA, 15 Oct. 2008 – The ground situation in Akka (Acre) has continued to worsen following the inter-community violence that began last week Wednesday. 14 families are now homeless after being forcefully evicted from their homes, many of which have been burnt down by Jewish extremists in the city. During the past few nights, a group of more than 200 Jewish youths have attacked Arab citizens of Akka, terrorizing them and forcing more families to flee their homes.
These families are temporarily residing in a hotel and are unable to return to their homes in fear of their personal safety. Three of these families’ homes and personal property have been completely destroyed. Akka police have not cooperated with the families’ requests for assistance or to accompany them back to their homes to collect clothes and other basic items. This transfer of Arabs out of their homes in mixed neighborhoods appears to be the beginning of a policy that will lead to the forced separation of Jews and Arabs in Akka, and has been supported by national political parties in Israel.
A boycott of the Old City of Akka, a predominantly Arab neighbourhood in Akka, has been announced by parts of the Jewish community of Akka, further exacerbating the economic situation of the economically marginalized Arab community. Although the Ministry of Interior has announced the allocation of one million NIS to restore the city following the riots, there have been no further details given on the allocation or timeframe of distribution.
In response to the deteriorating situation in Akka, more than two buses of Jewish citizens arrived in the city on Tuesday to demonstrate solidarity with the Arab community and encourage a return to peace. The buses were initially met with resistance by police in the city, but were eventually allowed access.
The Mossawa Center has been present in Akka since last Thursday, meeting with the family victims of the attacks and offering assistance and solidarity. On Monday, 14 Oct., families attempting to speak about their housing situation with municipal leaders at city hall were prevented from accessing the building by police. Unfortunately, the superficial peace portrayed by local political leadership fails to reflect the reality on the ground as Arab citizens are still fearful for their personal safety, and are unable to return to their homes and remain without basic necessities. Current inter-community relations are far from normal.
Today, Wednesday, 15 Oct., the Mossawa Center accompanied Mr. David Hammerstein, Member of the European Parliament and of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Israel, to meet with the families and assess the current situation in the city. Hammerstein meet with Arab and Jewish national and local political leaders, and accompanied some of the families to visit their homes and collect their belongings.
The Mossawa Center is calling the International community to act to ensure full return of the families to their homes and to hold the Israeli government responsible to end incitement and calls to transfer of the Arab community declared by religious and political leaders.
More public events in support of the Arab families are being organized for Thursday 16 Oct. For further details, contact the Mossawa Center.
-The Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote equality for the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Established in 1997, the Mossawa Center strives to improve the social, economic and political status of the Arab citizens of Israel, while preserving their national and cultural rights as Palestinians.