Warm greeting to you from Adalah.
This month Adalah marks the 22nd anniversary of the October 2000 killings, remembering the 13 unarmed Palestinians, 12 citizens of Israel and one resident of Gaza, killed by Israeli police forces at the beginning of the Second Intifada. In October 2000, as Palestinian citizens of Israel went out in mass protests in solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank, Israeli police opened fire at protestors, shooting 13 dead and injuring hundreds of others.
Adalah represented the families of the 13 Palestinians killed by police before the Or Commission of Inquiry, and later before the Police Investigations Department (PID or “Mahash”) and the Attorney General, who sought justice, demanding that the police, police commanders, and political leaders be held accountable for the loss of their loved ones. But persisting in its long-standing policy of granting almost sweeping impunity to its police and other armed forces, and exempting them from criminal prosecution, the state failed to hold accountable those responsible for the killings.
More than two decades later, in May 2021, protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel were again met with mass arbitrary arrests and extreme violence by police forces, causing injuries to demonstrators. Despite many complaints against police brutality, excessive force and even torture of detained protestors, no police forces were held accountable for their actions. Adalah, on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel, filed several complaints to the Police Investigation Department (PID) against police brutality during the May 2021 events, but the cases were either closed, or are still pending investigation over a year later. In several cases, Adalah filed appeals.
Adalah continues to monitor protest and police brutality in the aftermath of the May 2021 events.
In January 2022, afforestation work by Israel Lands Authority (ILA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the Naqab sparked protests by Bedouin residents and human rights activists. Demonstrators here too were violently dispersed by the police, and subjected to mass arrests and detention. In response, Adalah sent an urgent letter to the police commissioner, the commander of the Southern District Police, the police commander of the Negev region, and the Attorney General (AG) demanding that they immediately order Israeli police forces to halt the use of violent, illegal and life-threatening means to disperse protests and to allow protests to continue.
More recently, the police demolished a protest tent set up by residents in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Naqab to demonstrate against the discriminatory policies of the Bedouin Authority and the ILA in planning and building processes in the town, and their refusal to market plots for housing for local residents. Despite initially approving the protest tent following a request by the protest’s organizers, a few days later, on 22 September 2022, the police destroyed the tent. The forces also arrested and questioned many activists in relation to the protest tent. On the same day, Adalah sent a letter to police officials and the Attorney General requesting to permit the protest tent in Rahat and to refrain from taking any action intended to infringe on the residents' right to demonstrate.
Adalah will continue to represent Palestinian demonstrators in order to ensure their right for freedom of protest and expression – to Protect the Protest - and will continue to advocate for justice and accountability.
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