Arab Israelis clash with police over Gaza assault

NAZARETH, Israel (AFP) - Arab Israelis clashed with police in the northern city of Nazareth on Monday, police said, at the end of a protest against Israel's deadly military strikes in the Gaza Strip.

The clashes came as Nazareth and cities in the West Bank observed a general strike to mourn the victims of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas - the bloodiest since 2009 - that has cost more than 500 Palestinian lives in two weeks.

Police spokesman Luba Samri said around 200 Arab Israelis in Nazareth clashed with security forces, who responded with water cannons and stun grenades, arresting 10 people after the 3,000-strong demonstration in Israel's largest Arab city.

Demonstrators held up placards reading "Israeli army commits genocide in Gaza," an AFP correspondent said.

The outburst of anger came after the bloodiest day of Israel's two-week Gaza operation, when at least 140 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Sunday.

Shops were shuttered across the West Bank and in Arab towns in Israel, as unions, nationalist and Islamist groups called for a general strike, a call supported by the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday declared three days of mourning.

The PLO, which is dominated by Abbas's Fatah party, also called for protests in the occupied West Bank, which were to take place later Monday.

On Sunday night, around 4,000 demonstrators gathered in Ramallah and a large number in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Arab Israelis number around 1.4 million, some 20 percent of Israel's population.

They are the descendents of 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained on their land when the Jewish state was established in 1948.