Police will not be prosecuted
due to a lack of evidence
Israel will not prosecute police who shot dead 13 Israeli Arabs during
protests in 2000 because of a lack of evidence as to exactly who was responsible,
a Justice Ministry inquiry said.
Sunday's 80-page report drew anger from the Arabs who make up a fifth of Israel's
population and have long complained of discrimination by the Jewish majority.
The investigation looked into the killing by police of 13 Arabs in October
2000 during violent demonstrations in northern Israel in support of the Palestinian
uprising that had begun a few days earlier.
"There is no alternative but to close all of the cases, some because of
lack of sufficient evidence, and some because, to our regret, we have not managed
to locate the responsible police officers," the report said.
Israeli police killed 13 Israeli
Arabs in October 2000
Israeli Arab leaders condemned the report.
"For the future of our sons, we cannot keep silent in the wake of these findings,"
said Azmi Bishara, a member of Israel's parliament, urging protests and strikes
to show the government it could not "forfeit the lives of Arabs".
The October 2000 protests marked the biggest show of solidarity by Israeli
Arabs for the Palestinian uprising against Israel. Protesters blocked highways
and threw stones at police.
None of the demonstrators was found to have carried guns.
"We are not trying to justify shooting at demonstrators but we cannot
rule out that in specific cases, such shootings are justified because there
is a threat to life," said Justice Ministry official Herzl Shviro, who
led the investigation.
Shviro said work was made more difficult because families had refused to allow
In 2003, the government accepted a report that said the Israeli officers should
be reprimanded for using excessive force but not charged over the killings.
Israeli Arabs became citizens of the Jewish state after its creation in 1948
in parts of the British mandate of Palestine.
Many of their kin fled or were driven to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and further
afield in the Arab-Israeli war at the time.
There has been little direct involvement by Israeli Arabs in the Palestinian
uprising, but some have been convicted for aiding bombers to carry out attacks
Israeli Arabs have long complained of racism and institutionalised discrimination
Relations took another blow last month when an ultranationalist Jew killed
four Israeli Arabs on a bus in a vain attempt to wreck Israel's withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip. A West Bank settler killed four Palestinians soon after.
The killings in the 2000 protests marked the deadliest action by Israeli forces
against Israeli Arabs since 1956, when dozens were shot and killed after returning
to Kafr Qasim village, then under martial law, after a curfew they said they
were unaware of.
The officers involved in those deaths were sentenced at the time to several
years in prison.