State to Pay Millions to Families of October 2000 Riot Victims

The state will pay millions of shekels in compensation to the families of 11 Arabs who were killed in the October 2000 riots. The Nazareth District Court yesterday gave a compromise between the state prosecution and representatives of the eleven families the status of a verdict, although the prosecution refused to reveal the exact sum. The state stipulated that it had made an exception in awarding the compensation and that the agreement does not include any admission of responsibility for the deaths.

The families filed a damages suit a year ago, in addition to the criminal case in which the prosecution is reviewing a police internal affairs decision to close the case against police officers involved in shooting the Arab demonstrators. The parties submitted a joint statement to the court saying, "All sides regret the tragic events of October 2000 and the loss of life and injuries to civilians and security personnel that ensued."

The prosecution explained that the decision to pay compensation after direct negotiations and before any hearing was held was made because of the "special circumstances of the lawsuit and in order to close the matter in a fair and proper manner."

The families told Haaretz yesterday the sum averages NIS 800,000 per family. Prominent in the negotiations was Abrahim Sayam Jabarin, the father of Ahmed Jabarin, who was killed at Umm al-Fahm junction. Yesterday, Jabarin said the families had emphasized at all times the civil damages suit was filed in addition to the criminal proceedings. "In the criminal case, we will forge ahead until those responsible serve their sentences."

However, few of the families party to the agreement were interested in talking to the media yesterday and most preferred to keep a low profile. Kafr Manda's Bushnak family whose son Ramez was killed in the riots opted to speak out. "We have nothing to be ashamed of and we expected a wave of criticism," said Ramez's brother Halmi. He says the families reject accusations they sold the blood of the victims for money. "This is another phase in the battle for justice in this painful affair. Let no one think this case is closed, particularly the establishment and the policemen who were collaborators in the crime. We and the Adalah Center minority rights advocate along with the monitoring committee will continue criminal and legal proceedings against each responsible party. We will take our demand that they face trial as far as international proceedings."

The compromise filed with the court does not detail the arguments that persuaded the state to pay the compensation, which will be paid out within a month. After that, "No one, including the families of the deceased, will have any claims or demands on any cause related to the deaths."

The Justice Ministry noted that "the fact that the lawsuit was filed in September 2005 and legal procedures were completed in about a year .. indicates the goodwill of both parties to reach a proper conclusion."