Tel Aviv (dpa) - Israel's Arab minority declared a general strike Tuesday, to protest the death of two Bedouins in confrontations with Israeli police over the past week.
Public institutions, including city hall and schools, were closed in Arab towns and cities and protests were held in central squares.
Arabs and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship make up 20 per cent of the population of 8 million in the Jewish majority country.
On Sunday, a man died in the southern Bedouin town of Rahat during the funeral of a man who was shot during a police drug raid.
Rahat is the largest Bedouin town in Israel's southern Negev desert.Clashes erupted at the funeral, which was attended by thousands, when a police vehicle approached the mourners despite an agreement that police would stay away from the service.Hundreds of angry mourners pelted the police car with stones and police reinforcements had to be called in.Some two dozen protesters and several officers were injured.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man who died suffered a cardiac arrest.
He said police were investigating the shooting during the drug raid. "The strike is a move of solidarity with the residents of Rahat, to deliver a message to the police and everyone that the blood of Israel's Arab citizens is not cheap," said Mazin Gnayim, who temporarily heads a national committee that lobbies on behalf of Arab minority rights and declared the strike.
Gnayim is also the mayor of Sakhni n, an Arab town in northern Israel.