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Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Jaffa after local shot dead by police

July 29, 2017 9:32 P.M. (Updated: July 30, 2017 10:50 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian citizens of Israel took to the streets in the Palestinian-majority city of Jaffa in Israel to protest against police brutality and racial profiling, after a man was shot dead in a police chase early Saturday morning, according to Israeli media reports.

Another man was reportedly moderately wounded by gunfire during the police chase. According to Israeli police, the two fled the scene of a criminally-motivated shooting on Yefet Street in Jaffa on motorcycles and were shot while being pursued.

Arab48 news reported that clashes broke out Saturday afternoon between outraged local protesters and Israeli police.

Demonstrators denounced Israeli police for using excessive force with impunity, and vowed not to remain silent to prevent unjustified police killings from becoming normalized.

A family member of the slain man, who was identified by Arab48 as 22-year-old Mahdi al-Saadi from Jaffa, told the news site that al-Saadi was killed “in cold blood” and posed no threat to police when he was shot dead. “They could have shot him in the foot and arrested him,” they said.

Masked protesters reportedly closed the main road in Jaffa with burning tires and garbage containers and smashed a police car windshield, according to Israeli news site Ynet.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement that a group of young men threw stones at police officers, and that two suspected stone throwers were detained.

She said that as of Saturday evening, police continued to deploy heavily on Yefet street and the surrounding area to “maintain security and to respond to any possible scenario.”

Israeli police have come under heavy criticism for what rights groups have referred to as “extrajudicial executions” and excessive use of force against Palestinians who did not pose an immediate threat or who could have been disarmed through non-lethal means.

While fatal shootings by Israeli forces of Palestinians are more common in the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestinian citizens of Israel say they routinely face discriminatory treatment at the hands of police forces amounting to racial profiling.

Palestinian-majority areas in Israel have also seen an increase in gun violence in recent years, while members of the Arab Joint List in the Israeli parliament have called on authorities to crack down on illegal weapons in Israel’s Palestinian communities, where there is a disproportionate lack of policing compared to Jewish-majority neighborhoods.

The Joint List has warned against a rise in policing of Palestinian communities in the form of punitive action such as housing demolitions, rather than protecting Palestinian citizens of Israel from criminal violence.

After a Palestinian citizen of Israel was shot dead by an Israeli security guard during clashes in the Palestinian-majority town of Kafr Qasim in central Israel in June, Knesset member Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint List, accused Israeli police of treating Palestinians with Israeli citizenship as enemies to be fought rather than citizens to be protected.

"I am in Kafr Qasim with residents who couldn't tolerate anymore this disfigured reality, where their blood is being shed in vain," Odeh said. "Instead of keeping order and security in Arab towns, they (police) open fire at the residents of Kafr Qasim."

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