Israeli Arabs Gear Up for 10th Anniversary of October Clashes

In commemoration of 13 Israeli Arabs killed by police gunfire in 2000, families may demonstrate in front of Justice Ministry or urge the international community to demand that the investigation into the incidents be reopened - something the attorney general opposes.

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the October 2000 riots, in which 13 Israeli Arabs were killed by police gunfire, and the Arab community is gearing up for memorial events.

The main event will take place at Kafr Kana on Friday, when the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has also called a general strike of all Israeli Arabs. In communities where the clashes took place, processions leading to the graves of the dead demonstrators will be held.

Families of the Israeli Arabs killed in the October 2000 riots  in Tel Aviv Sep. 27, 2010
Tali Mayer

The first event, however, was held yesterday, when some 150 people attended a demonstration in downtown Tel Aviv to commemorate the anniversary. The demonstrators included relatives of Israeli Arabs killed in the clashes.

Families of the dead and human rights groups will announce further plans during the week. One possibility is a demonstration opposite the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem. Another is to urge the international community to demand that the investigation into the incidents be reopened - something the attorney general opposes.

"We will not forget and we will not forgive as long as the policemen guilty of the shootings have not been put on trial," said Dr. Mahmoud Yazbek, uncle of Isam Yazbek, who was killed during the clashes in Nazareth.

Yazbek said the Or Commission, which probed the shootings, concluded that there were police suspects who should have been investigated.

"It is the courts that should decide whether police are guilty or innocent, not the state prosecutor or the attorney general, who ignored the Or Commission's unequivocal statements," Yazbek said.

"We will insist on our right to bring the shooters to court. Otherwise, the state of Israel is saying explicitly that there is no justice, and no fair trial, when it comes to Israel's Arab citizens."

Also yesterday, hundreds of Jewish and Arab public figures, academics, intellectuals and artists signed a statement proclaiming a joint Jewish-Arab commitment to a just and equal society. Among the signatories were David Grossman, Mira Awad, Sami Michael, Shulamit Aloni, Dana Olmert and Yossi Sarid. The statement called for turning over a new leaf in Jewish-Arab relations and warned against the "anti-democratic whirlwind in which Israel finds itself."

Yesterday's protest in Tel Aviv was organized by a coalition of women's groups.

"The demonstration comes to mark the 10th anniversary of the October 2000 demonstrations in which 13 Palestinians were murdered by police," said Ayelet Maoz, one of the organizers. "Following the murder, the police investigation whitewashed what had happened and closed the cases. Even though the Or Commission recommended putting some of those responsible on trial, nothing was done.

"Israel systematically denies the fact that it has an obligation to investigation itself and do justice," Maoz added.

Abed al-Monaim Abu Salah, whose 23-year-old son Walid, an electrical engineering student from Sakhnin, was killed in the clashes, told Haaretz, "we are here today to demand that the cases be reopened and that those responsible for killing our sons in cold blood be tried and punished. It is unacceptable that citizens of the State of Israel have been killed in cold blood by the police and no one knows who did it.

"The pain and the anger are still with us as if it were the day my son was killed," he added.