Hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel clashed with Israeli police forces on Friday during a “Day of Rage” held at the entrance of Umm al-Fahm, Israel’s largest Arab city.
The “rage” was directed at Israel’s ongoing crackdown throughout the West Bank, sparked by the disappearance of three Israeli teens two weeks ago. Since the teens went missing, Israeli forces have shot and killed at least five Palestinians and arrested more than 500.
“Our brothers and sisters are dying in Gaza and West Bank,” one demonstrator, who asked to remain nameless, told VICE news. “How can we be expected to sit here and do nothing?”
The day of rage had initially been planned in support of the record-breaking hunger strike, carried out for 63 days by Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention, imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial.
The hunger strike was called off on Wednesday after the Israeli Prison Service reached an agreement with the detainees, the details of which are to be revealed after the hunger strikers receive medical treatment and their conditions stabilize.
The number of Palestinian administrative detainees has almost doubled since Israel began its campaign of mass arrests throughout the West Bank two weeks ago.
Friday’s demonstration quickly turned violent after hundreds of Israeli Border Police pushed protesters off the Wadi Ara highway and back into Umm al-Fahm using rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.
Demonstrators chanted alongside the highway for about 20 minutes before clashes began.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman released a statement shortly after news of the protest broke, saying the demonstrators “should be treated as terrorists in every sense of the word.”
Palestinian citizens of Israel make up about one fifth of Israel’s population.
Their insistence on retaining their Palestinian identity has caused Israeli authorities to label them a dangerous “fifth column,” a label that has become progressively more threatening over the last decade.