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Nearly 30 hurt as Israel extremists march in Arab town

  • Story Highlights
  • Clashes took place in Umm al-Fahm, a predominantly Arab Muslim town
  • Right-wing activists carried the Israeli flag through the streets of the city
  • Protesters threw stones at the marchers and at the police forces
  • Three police officers were also wounded, including deputy police chief
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Arab protesters threw rocks and hurled insults at flag-waving Jewish marchers in Israel's largest Arab city on Tuesday, an event that reflected fresh hostilities between Israel's Arab citizenry and rightist sectors of the Jewish state.

The march by Israeli extremists turned into violence on the streets of Umm al-Fahm.

The march by Israeli extremists turned into violence on the streets of Umm al-Fahm.

About 100 far-rightists marched in the predominantly Muslim town of Umm al-Fahm, and the angry Arab demonstrations that erupted after the march took place left more than nearly 30 people injured and at least 10 people detained, police said.

Deputy Israeli police commissioner Shahar Ayalon and 15 other policemen were wounded by stone throwing demonstrators, 12 Umm al-Fahm residents were hurt in scuffles with police. Police also said Israeli leftist lawmaker Ilan Ghilon, a member of the Meretz Party, was lightly injured by a tear gas grenade.

The Jewish group, led by Hebron activist Baruch Marzel, petitioned the Supreme Court for permission to stage the march, with the rightists arguing that they were exercising their right to march under Israeli law as Arabs and Muslims have in Israeli towns like Tel Aviv.

But marchers disseminated a particularly hot-button message in Umm al-Fahm that has been setting people off: They demanded that Israeli Arabs should be loyal to the Jewish state, a stance considered insulting by many Israeli Arabs.

While the march leaders are not affiliated with right-wing party Yisrael Beytenu, their words about Arab loyalty reflect the concerns among Israeli Arabs about that political movement, which made a strong showing in recent elections.

It has called on Arabs -- who it sees as disloyal to Israel -- to have their citizenship revoked. And, Avigdor Lieberman, that party's leader, also said that such Arab towns like Umm al-Fahm could become part of a Palestinian state in any peace arrangement.

Leaders in Umm al-Fahm -- the scene of past bloody clashes with police and an Islamist hub -- warned that the march would provoke violence, and 2,500 police mobilized in the town.

Arab demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans and threw rocks. Police fired tear gas canisters. There were also Israeli Jews in Umm al-Fahm who protested the right-wing march and agreed that the display hurt Jewish-Arab relations.

According to the CIA Factbook, Israel's Jewish population is 76.4 percent. It's non-Jewish population is 23.6 percent, including 16 percent Muslim, 1.7 percent Arab Christians and 1.6 percent Druze.

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