Israelis protest against Palestinians moving into 'Jewish city'
Residents of a northern Israeli city protested on Wednesday against the sale of a house to a family of Palestinian citizens of Israel, demanding the area remain solely Jewish.
Many protesters carried signs blasting the homeowners for selling the property to non-Jews, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, with one reading: "Traitors against the Jews will get no rest."
Afula's former mayor, Avi Elkabetz, joined the 150 residents calling for the sale to be cancelled to preserve Afula as a "Jewish city".
'The residents of Afula don't want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it's their right'
- Avi Elkabetz, former mayor
"The residents of Afula don't want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it's their right," Elkabetz told Haaretz. "This is not racism."
The city's deputy mayor, Shlomo Malihi, also joined the protests. He told Haaretz: "I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won't begin to be mixed."
"We do not have admittance committees like in the towns and kibbutzim around us, but we will not allow the character of the city to change," he added.
Calls for the demonstration described Palestinian newcomers as "undesirable" and warned more families could follow in the future if the sale was not cancelled.
A notice to residents urging them to protest the sale read: "One transaction has already been carried out and everything needs to be done to cancel it and to put a stop to this phenomenon from the beginning. Friends, now is the time to come together. All Jews are responsible for one another! Today it's us, tomorrow, it's you."
Ayman Odeh, who leads the Joint List coalition of mostly Palestinian lawmakers in Israel's parliament, said the protest was not shocking "in a country that has founded 700 towns for Jews and not even one for Arabs".
"It is more than a little worrying to see how our hope for living together is crumbling due to hatred and racism fuelled by the government," he tweeted.
'Our hope for living together is crumbling due to hatred and racism fuelled by the government'
- Ayman Odeh, MP
In March, another town in northern Israel, Kfar Vradim, suspended sales of properties to maintain "demographic balances" because many of the homes were being bought by Arab families.
Similar reasons were reportedly behind the decision to suspend sales of developments in Lod, a city near Tel Aviv, in April.
In 2015, Afula witnessed similar protests over a bidding process for residential property which resulted in 43 successful bids by Palestinian citizens of Israel.
A local Israeli court later rescinded approval of the successful bids.