(GPA) Tel Aviv – A strike swept through Arab areas of Israel last week as a wave of new demolitions were carried out in an Arab town in northern Israel.

Wednesday saw a strike that closed down stores, schools and local government offices across Arab majority areas of Israel. The strike was staged in solidarity with residents of the town of Qalansuwa as 11 Arab owned residences were demolished by Israeli authorities.

The buildings were set for demolition due to not having the proper permits but critics of the Israeli government say these permits are hard to obtain for Israeli Arabs due to a variety of intentional roadblocks and bureaucratic red tape in place. Arab communities say that even building to maintain minimal growth of their communities is made almost impossible by the Israeli government.

On of the groups supporting the strike, the Joint (Arab) List faction, said in a statement that “The houses were in the process of receiving planning permission, the government has hastened to act in order to make a point.” This comes among increasingly anti-Arab moves made by the Israeli government following the United Nations Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements.

The statement also alleged that the move was made to draw attention away from a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as continued illegal settler activity in Palestine. The statement said “There is no doubt that the home demolitions in the Arab community are due to the theft of land in Amona, and because of the crisis of the prime minister and the right wing. As the investigation [against Netanyahu] grows so the number of demolitions grows.”

Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Flickr: scottgunn

Netanyahu responded with a short Facebook post saying “I am not deterred by the criticism and as I have directed we are continuing to implement equal enforcement in Israel.”