Living in Fear: Arab Israelis Face Increasing Hate Crimes and Attacks
The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has not only resulted in a devastating loss of lives and destruction but has also fueled a rise in hate crimes and attacks against Arab Israelis. Arab Israelis, who make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population, have been living in fear since October 7, when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel.
The fear and discrimination faced by Arab Israelis have been further exacerbated by the war, which has strained relations between Palestinians and Israelis in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem. Even before the conflict, rights groups frequently highlighted the regular discrimination faced by Arab Israelis, despite them holding Israeli citizenship.
One chilling incident occurred at the Netanya Academic College dormitory, where a mob of angry individuals encircled the building, chanting “Death to Arabs!” They attempted to break down the doors, leaving dozens of terrified Arab students barricaded inside. The students had previously been questioned by Israeli police for allegedly throwing eggs at religious Jewish Israelis, a charge they vehemently denied. Despite providing evidence from security cameras that proved their innocence, a group gathered outside the dormitory, demanding their expulsion.
The incident at the Netanya dormitory is just one example of the increasing hate crimes and attacks against Arab Israelis. The far-right football fan club “La Familia,” which has ties to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, organized the protest. The failure of the university, police, and Netanya municipality to prevent the attack has been criticized by human rights organizations.
The war has also seen a surge in violent conversations on social media platforms like Facebook and Telegram. Non-profit group 7amleh has identified over 590,000 violent conversations in Hebrew, including calls for a “second Nakba” and incitements to kill and expel Palestinians. While some of these posts have been reported and removed, the prevalence of such hate speech is deeply concerning.
Arab Israeli politicians, including Ahmad Tibi, have spoken out about the abuse and threats they receive. Despite repeated complaints, the police have failed to take action. The Israeli labor union organization “Power to the Workers” has recorded attacks on Arab drivers, warning of increasing acts of violence against them. Arab bus drivers have been targeted, with one driver being sprayed with gas by passengers after they learned he was an Arab.
The discrimination and violence faced by Arab Israelis extend beyond the workplace and public transportation. Dozens of right-wing Israelis recently demonstrated against a shop that employs Arabs, holding signs that read “Don’t support terrorists.” The protesters were prevented from entering the shop, but around 30 Arab workers did not return to work the next day due to safety concerns.
The situation has left Arab Israelis feeling unsafe and fearful. Many no longer take Israeli public transportation, and some are afraid to return to their rented accommodations or college campuses. The war has created an atmosphere of hostility and animosity, where Arab Israelis are targeted solely based on their ethnicity.
It is crucial for Israeli authorities to address these hate crimes and attacks against Arab Israelis. The police must take immediate action to protect the rights and safety of all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity. Efforts should also be made to promote tolerance, understanding, and coexistence among different communities within Israel.
As the Israel-Hamas war continues, it is essential to remember that peace can only be achieved through dialogue, respect, and recognition of the rights of all individuals. Arab Israelis deserve to live without fear and discrimination, just like any other citizen in Israel.