State to compensate Oct. 2000 victims

Justice Ministry: Payment for Oct. 2000 deaths not claim of responsibility.

wadi ara riots 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
wadi ara riots 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
The state will pay damages to 11 of the 13 bereaved families whose loved ones were shot and killed by police during the October 2000 riots, according to an agreement which has been given the status of a court ruling, the Justice Ministry announced Thursday. During the riots, 13 Arabs were killed in clashes with policemen in the North as they protested then prime minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Neither the state nor the families who were party to the agreement would say how much money the government would pay. "We do not have figures at present," said Ibrahim Jabarin, the father of Ahmed Jabarin, who was killed in Umm el-Fahm on October 2. The families' lawyer, Haifa attorney Adi Michlin, did not return a phone call from The Jerusalem Post. Meanwhile, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman said that the state would not divulge the figure in order to respect the families' right to privacy. The state insisted that its consent to pay damages did not mean it accepted responsibility for the killings and that the payments were being made "over and above the requirements of the law." The government said it was paying the money to "bring an appropriate and fair conclusion" to the civil action "despite its fundamental position that it was not responsible for the damages in at least some of the claims included in the lawsuit." Meanwhile, the families insisted that the settlement did not affect their demand to bring the policemen who killed their family members to justice. "We have been going along two separate channels from the beginning," said Himi Bushnak, whose brother, Ramez, was killed in Kafr Manda on October 3. "The second path is the criminal one. We insist on bringing to trial all of those who were responsible for the deaths of our loved ones." Bushnak said that the families had had to decide whether or not to sue for damages before the seven-year statute of limitations went into effect. They submitted the lawsuit in 2005. Two of the families did not join the civil action, those of Asil Assali, killed on October 2 in Arrabe, and of Omar Akawi, killed in Nazareth on October 8. According to Bushnak, the families preferred to use the services of another lawyer. However, there have been reports that they refused out of principle to accept compensation for the deaths of their children. Hassan Assali, the father of Asil and head of the organization of the bereaved families, was out of the country and could not be asked about the matter.