Israeli Arabs Mark Fifteenth Anniversary of October 2000 Riots

13 Arab civilians were killed by Israel Police fire during demonstrations in October 2000.

Yaron Kaminsky

About 3,000 people marched in a parade to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the October 2000 protests in which 13 Arab civilians were killed by Israel Police fire. The day commenced with a memorial ceremony, where people laid wreaths on the graves of those killed, some of whom were children. The participants donned black flags, Palestinians flags, and pictures of the 13 fatalities. 

Despite requests from the victims' families and political activists, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel has decided not to declare a general strike, in light of recent incidents and tension at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Local Israeli Arab leaders feared that a general strike might not be widely honored, though they also believe there was a possibility that such a strike could get out of control due to the recent flare up at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

At the same time, the Education Committee for Arab citizens of Israel has requested that schools dedicate the morning hours to lessons about the reasons behind the incidents of October 2000 and its repercussions.

Currently, amid the rising tension in Jerusalem and recent changes to the rules of engagement, which loosen regulations for opening fire, have put the Israel Police in direct clashes with many Arab-Israeli demonstrators.

Adalah Legal Center that is working on the case said the victims' families insist to prosecute those responsible for the October 2000 crimes.

In a statement issued by the organization, they said that dozens of young Palestinians living in Israel were killed by police fire in recent years, whose perpetrators receive full immunity backup from investigation.

The recent change in the rules of engagement which allows the use of snipers, and snipers against children, directly contradicts the Or Commission Report of 2003.

"It should be unequivocally clear that live fire, including rounds fired by snipers, is not a means of spreading loads by police. Shooting a live person is a way to deal with extenuating circumstances, like life threatening danger. There is also a need to train officers and commanders in the field of the seriousness of using a fire weapon, as it can have a lethal outcome."     

Commemoration of the October 2000 incidents began on Wednesday in the area where they took place fifteen years ago, particularly in Wadi Ara, Nazereth and the Galilee. Many Arab towns will hold ceremonies on Thursday morning, and a large march will take place in Sakhnin in the afternoon. The procession will march on local streets only. Northern District Police stated that they are fully ready for any scenario, though no disturbances are expected.