Several thousand people marched in Sakhnin on Monday to protest the failure of
the state to prosecute anyone for the death of 12 Israeli Arabs – and one
Palestinian – 12 years ago.
The march was held on the 12th anniversary of
the riots that broke out in Arab cities and towns across the north in October
2000, as an outgrowth of the start of the second intifada.
carried Palestinian flags and black banners of mourning, as well as posters that
read: “The blood of the martyrs is dear to us” and “We shall not forgive the
killers.” Hundreds of Arab students stayed home from school on Monday to attend
“If the government fails to do justice – we shall. If it fails
to punish the criminals – we shall,” MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al)
told the crowd. “We shall not forgive and forget. The Arab public holds the
Israeli government accountable and demands an apology by the prime minister and
the prosecution of the murderers.
“The killing of 13 Arab citizens who
came out to protest and were shot only because of their national identity will
remain a blemish on the face of the Israeli government as long as the murderers
go unpunished,” Sanaa said.
Commemoration ceremonies were held in various
cemeteries in the communities where the 13 were killed. But unlike in previous
years, the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership did not call a
strike, angering the family and friends of some victims.
In one village
in the North, Arrabe, protesters locked up the cemetery’s gates to prevent
members of the committee from visiting the grave of Asel Asleh, a 17-year-old
student who was killed when police used lived ammunition against
Many Israeli Arabs charge that Israeli police would never
have fired on a crowd of Jewish protesters. There is widespread disappointment
that none of the security forces involved in the shootings, which occurred over
several days, were prosecuted.
The Or Commission report, which was
established to investigate the events of October 2000, found a pattern of
government “prejudice and neglect” toward Israeli Arabs leading up to the
explosion of violence, and was critical of the police’s use of excessive force
to quell the riots.
Other protests were held in several major cities and
villages on Monday, including Nazareth, Kafr Kana, Umm el-Fahm and
The newspaper Al-Ittihad
, in conjunction with the communist party
al–Jabha, said on its website that the protests were particularly important
given the “mounting fascism and racism in the official Israeli establishment and
among the general population.”