Families of October 2000 riot victims reject compensation

Statement says that they changed their mind because the state did not assume responsibility for the deaths.

october 2000 riots 88 (photo credit: )
october 2000 riots 88
(photo credit: )
Eight Israeli Arab families who were due to receive compensation from the government after their loved ones were shot and killed by police during the October 2000 riots announced on Monday that they were refusing to accept them. "We changed our minds because the agreement signed by the state and our lawyer did not address the state's responsibility for the deaths of the victims, did not mention putting the killers on trial and only dealt with the marginal question of money," Ghaleb Hameisi, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit which was filed last year in Nazareth District Court, told The Jerusalem Post. Twelve Israeli Arabs and one Palestinian were shot and killed by police inside Israel during riots that erupted in October 2000 in the wake of a visit by Ariel Sharon, then leader of the parliamentary opposition, to the Temple Mount, and subsequent riots in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza leading to many Palestinian casualties. Eleven of the families sued the government for damages for the loss of their sons or brothers. Khameisi accused the lawyer the families hired, Adi Michlin, of deceiving the families by signing the agreement with the state without consulting first with the families' representative. According to the contract, Michlin was supposed to obtain the approval of Attorney Hassan Jabarin, the head of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, before signing any document, said Hameisi. But Jabarin saw the agreement that Michlin signed with Eitan Lederer, a senior attorney in the Haifa District Attorney's Office, only on Monday, five days after it was approved by the court. "He failed to do his job," charged Hameisi, referring to Michlin. "It was a kind of deception. It looks like the agreement was drawn up by the prosecution or the Attorney-General and Michlin just signed it. Michlin was unavailable for comment on Monday evening. According to the agreement between the state and the plaintiffs, the government said it was paying the money to the victims' families "above and beyond the requirements of the law and without the agreement to do so in any way constituting recognition of responsibility for all, or one or another of the incidents and despite its basic position that it is not responsible for damages for at least some of the incidents included in the lawsuit." In its statement, the eight families declared that "We reject the monetary compensation agreement proposed by the state, because we were, and continue to be, convinced that the state is the main suspect in the killing of our sons. We will continue our efforts until we bring the guilty ones to justice for their crimes." The eight families who signed the document were the parents or siblings of Rami Gara (Jatt, shot Oct. 1), Ahmed Jabarin (Umm el-Fahm, Oct. 2), Muhamad Jabarin (Umm el-Fahm, Oct. 1), Amad Genayim (Sahnin, Oct. 2), Iyad Luabne (Nazareth, Oct. 2), Ala'a Nasser (Arrabeh, Oct. 2), Muhammed Hameisi (Kfar Kana, Oct. 3), Ramez Bushnak (Kfar Manda, Oct . 3), and Wissam Yazbek (Nazareth, Oct. 8.) Hameisi said he was certain the other families would also decide to reject the settlement by Tuesday morning. In the meantime, they have been consulting with their families, he told the Post. He also denied that the families had rejected the settlement because of pressure from the Arab sector, which reportedly was angry that the families were willing to accept money from the state for the deaths of their loved ones. "We were the ones who got angry," said Hameisi. "As soon as we saw the terms of the agreement, we got angry at the state. When the Arab public realized this, they reacted differently. They understood that we had not agreed to the terms."