JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of protesters from Israel's Arab minority took to the streets Wednesday in response to the demolition of 11 homes built without proper permits by Israeli authorities, while Israeli Arab leaders called for a general strike in all their towns and villages.
Yousef Jabareen, an Arab member of Israel's parliament, called the demolition in the central city of Kalansua "unprecedented" and vowed to fight further measures.
He said the source of the problem were long-standing barriers placed by the state that prevent Arabs from acquiring proper building permits.
Hundreds of protesters in Kalansua chanted in Arabic: "Netanyahu coward, this is our land and we are here."
The Israeli government has recently vowed to crack down harder on illegal Arab building.
It comes after criticism from Jewish West Bank settlers who faced a court-ordered evacuation of an illegally built outpost and who demanded the law be enforced equally.
Arabs make up a fifth of Israel's population. They enjoy full citizenship but frequently face unfair treatment in areas like jobs and housing.
Arab-Israelis have risen to prominence in sports, politics, entertainment and the judiciary. But the community has long been viewed by many with suspicion, seen as untrustworthy, with loyalties torn between their Israeli citizenship and their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.