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more fire on the residents

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The burning of cellular antennas by Druze communities

Restless Druze employ boycotts, arson to combat cellular antennas

Last update - on 12.08.2008
By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent

Residents of the Druze community of Majdal Shams are considering calling for a religious boycott of those whose roofs are used by cellular telephone companies to set up antennas.

"This is how we deal with opposition to cellular antennas in our community," said Dr. Samih Sfadi, a resident of the village, located on the Golan Heights. On Sunday, three cellular antennas were burned down by residents of the neighboring village of Masadeh.

Opposition to the cellular antennas is widespread among Druze communities on the Golan. Two months ago, an antenna was set ablaze in the village of Buqata.

According to Eran Shaked, spokesman for the Galilee District Police, "following the torching of the antennas in Masadeh, the Golan [police] station began collecting evidence. Later, we will make arrests of suspects in the arson cases. We will arrest all those who led the arson attacks."

The spokesman added that "complaints have been filed by the cellular telephone companies, and we are now working on a number of levels. The background to the whole thing is opposition to the erection of antennas. There are no other motives."

According to a Masadeh resident, "there were talks with the cellular telephone companies, and requests were made [by residents] to lower the antennas' transmitting power. At a meeting held Sunday at the hilweh [prayer hall], religious leaders and elders called for calm, but the young were fed up, and many of them went out and burned down the antennas," he added.

Nabi Awida, of Majdal Shams, said: "We have also been trying to get rid of the antennas for the past year and a half, and there was a time when [residents] disconnected them from the electrical supply. Now they are trying to find property outside the village where they could place the antennas, and the residents have asked that [the antennas] be of lower transmission power.

"People simply asked the home owners where the antennas were set up to disconnect them, and they were wise and gave in, so there were no confrontations," Awida added.

Awida said the powerful opposition to the antennas in Druze communities stems from the fact that "there has been a steep increase in the number of cases of cancer in Majdal Shams, Masadeh and Buqata, especially among those living close to the antennas. Maybe this is coincidence, but the people are afraid, and they are panicking. It is a good thing that the police did not go into Masadeh. The people had no intention of confronting [the police], they just vented their frustration that the antennas are not being removed," Awida added.

The burning of cellular antennas by Druze communities began a long time ago. In Isfiya, on Mount Carmel, a riot took place in March 2000 as a result of residents' opposition to the setting up of cellular antennas nearby. The residents expressed concern that the antennas posed a major health hazard. The villagers tried to forcibly block infrastructure work on the antennas and destroyed the cellular telephone companies' property. The police used violence to disperse the rioters and several of them were injured, as were some police officers.

Then environment minister Dalia Itzik eventually ordered the antennas removed, except for one for which a license was issued.

A similar incident occurred several months ago in Pek'in, after a cellular antenna was set up in that area.

Hussein Halabi, who edits the Carmel Portal, said that "opposition to the erection of antennas and transmitters for cellular telephony is great. Recently, Bezeq transmitters were burned in Daliat al-Carmel. It is a major problem, because on one hand, we want the telephones, but on the other, there is grave concern about illness."

Residents of the Druze village of Peki'in in northern Israel were furious about a cellular antenna installed on top of a chicken coop

01 Nov 2007

Yes, this became national headlines, one woman from the Village said on the radio that there are now 92 cancer cases in the village when 10 years ago there were zero, this is the reason they blame the antenna. She said the cellular companies say that there is no proof of link between antennas and cancer, but she knows it is not true. But the violence became the main headlines and the reason was put aside (spin?).

The news dealt with whether the police handled this case well or did it not learn from past events, and there were discussions (TV) on the relations between the Druz and jews in Israel and whether this case puts the relations at risk.

The people of the village received an early notice about the police arrival, they hid and waited for the police with stones in hands, 200 policemen arrived at the place and it turned into this total mess.

01 Nov 2007

Note that the political violence - suffered by both the law and order and the general population - sparked by electromagnetic issues and injury to the general population is an emerging problem that may have to be contended with in more and more nations unless proper exposure standards and electromagnetic hygiene are introduced and implemented.

When environmental (and not just personal/marketing-induced choice) exposure levels are tending to double / triple annually, and larger number of exposure casualties outnumber "acceptable" risk/collateral damage to highly visible numbers in densely populated parts of tense population cluster, one must not expect submission from the outraged general population, especially in societies where family ties and bonds are strong and vibrant.

Think of the well-know case of the mothers of Argentina who overthrew the dictatorship of military might after losing their children, simply marching in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Are we going to see such manifestations overthrow technology implementation forging ahead without control? Let this case in Israel show that such emerging rage is cross-cultural, apolitical, and easily aimed at local authority.

Andrew Michrowski

on at 2.11.2007

Police to investigate riots in Druze village that left dozens injured

"Our children serve in the police forces, and we have no problem with police. You cannot enter a village with such a large armed force in order to arrest five or six people"

Police Commissioner David Cohen announced Tuesday afternoon he would appoint a committee of inquiry to investigate a western Galilee clash between police and Druze residents, which left 40 people injured.

Residents of the Druze village of Peki'in exchanged fire Tuesday morning (30.10.2007) with police intent on making arrests over a vandalized cellular phone antenna.

Cohen announced he would appoint the committee after Druze leaders and Arab MKs accused the police of brutality and demanded an inquiry into the conduct of the police.

Some 27 police officers were among the wounded. Police and the Magen David Adom emergency service said that one civilian and one policemen sustained serious injuries in the clashes. Three of the civilians were wounded by live police ammunition.

Police defended opening fire on the residents, saying they did so only in self-defense.

Northern District Police Chief Major General Shimon Koren confirmed that the police used live ammunition in the town, arguing that the officers had found themselves in a life-threatening situation.

The clashes broke out early in the morning when a police force entered the village to arrest a number of locals suspected of torching the antenna two days ago.

Koren said the clashes broke out while the arrests were taking place. He said a group of young men aged between 17 and 24 years began firing shots at police and hurled stun and tear gas grenades.

Koren also said that police officers were attacked by masked men, and that talks were underway with the Druze community leaders in order to avoid any further clashes.

Peki'in Mayor Hamed Kheir said residents were furious about a cellular antenna installed on top of a chicken coop in New Peki'in, a nearby Jewish community.

"The problem is the antenna. For a month we've been talking with the antenna's owner to get him to take it down, because in Peki'in there are more than 100 cancer patients," Kheir told Army Radio. He added that youths from his town had destroyed the antenna over the weekend.

The mayor also said that 200 policemen had entered the village. He said the police force was too large for such an incident, and that they should have coordinated their arrival with him beforehand.

Samir Wahaba, who had been an advisor to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, said that there was no doubt that the police had erred.

"Our children serve in the police forces, and we have no problem with police. You cannot enter a village with such a large armed force in order to arrest five or six people," Wahaba said.

"Did the police first summon the suspected men and they did not comply?" asked Wahaba. "Were the police in contact with local authorities to assure that things remained quiet? Why did the police use live ammunition? The police need to answer all of these questions," Wahaba said.

"We didn't enter Peki'in to educate or make order," Koren said in response. "We went in to make arrests. We will not allow those who disrupt order to do as they please."

During the clashes, a policewoman became trapped in a Druze house of worship and was protected by a retired Druze policeman from the village. She was later released in exchange for five local residents who had been arrested, following several hours of negotiations between police and community leaders.

Rioters also set fire to the house of one of the few Jewish families who live near an ancient synagogue in the town, witnesses said. The house was empty and no one was hurt in the fire.

Dozens hurt in Israel Druze village clashes

Tue Oct 30, 2007

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Dozens of police and protestors were injured on Tuesday in clashes in a Druze village of northern Israel where demonstrators charge a mobile phone mast has caused an outbreak of cancer.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 30 people were hurt in the unrest when police went to Pekiin to make arrests over the uprooting two days ago of a mobile phone transmission antenna outside the village.

"The rioters were masked, and they threw rocks, stones, and metal bars," Rosenfeld said, adding that the police were currently looking into reports that the crowds threw one or two grenades at police officers.

"Calm has returned for now and police are trying to engage in dialogue with local officials," Rosenfeld said, adding that some 200 police officers had taken up positions outside the town.

Sixteen police officers were among the injured, he said. Six people were arrested.

Israeli public radio said they were later released, but Rosenfeld could not immediately confirm the report.

Local leaders said police came to the town after residents destroyed a cellular phone tower they believed was causing cancer.

"There have been a lot of complaints about cancer cases here and youths destroyed a mobile phone mast... Clashes broke out this morning when police arrived," Mohammed Khir, head of the Druze community, told public radio.

A spokesman from Magen David Adom, Israel's paramedic service, said one of the rioters had been shot and seriously injured, while Rosenfeld said the police were still looking into reports of injuries.

"Some police officers were forced to open fire with live rounds because their life was in danger and we are checking whether this fire caused any injuries," Rosenfeld said.

The National Democratic Assembly, an Arab-Israeli political party with three Knesset members, sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanding the immediate creation of a committee to investigate the incident.

"Police behaved and treated residents of Pikiin as if they were enemies they had to mow down with force and not citizens," it said.

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