Israeli Police Shooting of Arab MP Raises Storm

June 23, 1999 - 0:0
BAIT-UL-MOQADDAS An Arab legislator accused Israeli police of racism on Tuesday, saying they knowingly shot and wounded a fellow Arab lawmaker during violent demonstrations near Tel Aviv. Police firing rubber-coated bullets wounded Azmi Bishara, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, and seven other Israeli Arabs in clashes on Monday with stone-throwers in the town of Lod near Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport.

Bishara's shoulder wound was not serious. Issam Mahoul, another Arab Knesset member, said the shooting was "an attempt to attack, to quash the thinking of an Arab legislator". He was referring to Bishara, who this year became the first Arab and the first non-Jew to campaign for the Israeli premiership but withdrew before the vote. Mahoul, who took part in the protest, told Israel radio the shooting was "definitely" intentional.

"I saw hatred in the eyes of the police. There was a clear statement being made here (to Arab parliamentarians): You are not immune." The Lod violence erupted after police demolished an Arab-owned house. Lod's Arabs have long charged that local authorities give Jews priority in granting construction permits, leaving Arabs little alternative but to build without legal sanction. (Reuter)