Arab Israelis, including members of the Bedouin community in the Negev, are among the victims of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.
BAQA AL-GHARBIYYE, Israel — Israel’s 21% Arab minority is demonstrating solidarity with victims of Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel. This is despite attempts by some in the right-wing government and media to question their loyalty and incite anger against them.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, for example, said he had instructed police to prepare for a scenario similar to the bloody rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab communities during Israel’s bitter May 2021 clash with Gaza’s Islamic Jihad. Instead, not only are the streets of Arab towns and neighborhoods calm, but there is an outpouring of aid and solace running the gamut from offers to host Jews forced out of their homes in the south to donations of food and clothing.
Arabs were also killed, abducted and injured in the cruel Hamas raid and the organization’s relentless rocket barrages that reached deep into Israeli territory over the past week. Some 16 members of the Negev Bedouin community have reportedly been killed and 40 are missing.
But that is not the reason for the solidarity of this often discriminated against minority with their Jewish neighbors. Unlike the events of May 2021, the “Black Saturday” Hamas onslaught was not sparked by religious tensions over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount. And despite the surprise evinced by many Israelis at the Arab community’s support, Arab Israelis are determined to distance themselves from the barbaric Hamas acts being compared to those of the Islamic State.
The first to take a public stand on the Oct. 7 massacre was the chair of the Islamist Ra’am party, Knesset member Mansour Abbas, often accused by right-wing politicians of being a fifth column despite his consistently moderate positions.