Military training on the streets of Umm al-Fahm
On November 10, 2021, soldiers and armored personnel carriers (APCs) entered Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Arab city in the country, with a population of approximately 56,000 residents, and conducted a training that simulated Hezbollah combat in the villages of southern Lebanon. Troops patrolled the city’s alleys and passed by educational institutions as students were heading home from school. Videos uploaded to social media indicate that APCs and other military vehicles even continued to roam the city at night, amid residents, vehicles, and homes.
ACRI Attorneys Tal Hassin and Gadeer Nicola appealed to the Minister of Defense, the IDF Chief of General Staff, and Commander of the Northern Command, requesting that they cease training in the city and immediately ban military training in Arab localities, villages, and neighborhoods. The appeal claims that military exercises carried out in Arab localities in Israel violate Arab citizens’ rights to dignity, security, and identity, fostering feelings of exclusion and discrimination among Arab society, and intensifying its perception as an enemy and fifth column among the general public.
The appeal noted that "The decision to hold a divisional training in the heart of an Arab city, is extremely unreasonable and indicates improper judgment, while displaying impressive obtuseness and complete alienation from the local population, its security, identity and feelings." It continued, "The entry of soldiers and military vehicles into an Arab city, the image of its streets as a battlefield, the publications that covered the matter referring to the 'occupation' of Umm al-Fahm and drawing a parallel between it and the villages of southern Lebanon, deemed 'enemy territory' by the State of Israel, leave little to the imagination regarding how Arab citizens at large, and residents of Umm al-Fahm in particular, are perceived and presented. This message was not solely sent to residents of the city, but also to all citizens of the country."