Adalah / October 2, 2023
23 years have passed since the October 2000 Israeli police killings of 13 unarmed Palestinian protesters (12 citizens of Israel and one Gaza resident) – and the wounding of hundreds of others – who participated mass demonstrations from 1-8 October 2000, throughout the country, to protest against Israel’s killing and injury of Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and in the West Bank.
Today we remember the 13 Palestinians killed: Ahmed Ibrahim Siyyam Jabareen, Mohammed Ahmed Jabareen, Rami Khatem Ghara, Eyad Sobhi Lawabny, Aseel Hassan Asleh, Ala Khaled Nassar, Misleh Hussein Abu Jarad, Walid Abdul-Menem Abu Saleh, Emad Farraj Ghanaym, Ramez Abbas Bushnaq, Mohammed Ghaleb Khamayseh, Wissam Hamdan Yazbak, and Omar Mohammed Akkawi.
The Or Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the October 2000 killings, warned that, “The police must instill in their officers the understanding that the Arab public as a whole is not their enemy, and they should not treat it as an enemy.” Twenty years after the conclusions were published, however, the police’s hostile attitude towards Palestinians has only intensified. Police officers continue to kill Palestinians with impunity, while in some instances, as in the cases of Ya’akub Abu-al-Qi’an and Eyad al-Hallaq, officers are shielded from accountability solely because they perceive them as enemies.
The Or Commission also addressed policing in Palestinian communities in Israel, emphasizing that they “would benefit from robust police enforcement to combat serious criminal issues, including drug offenses and property crimes that harm their social fabric”. Such recommendations went unheeded, and the long-standing policy of negligence and inaction towards crime within Palestinian communities in Israel has continued, resulting in bloodshed and widespread fear and insecurity. Indeed, since the beginning of 2023, 193 Palestinians – of which 184 are citizens of Israel – have been murdered in criminal circumstances.
The police’s hostile attitude towards Palestinians and disregard for their lives was evident in the October 2000 killings, and in their aftermath with none of those responsible having been held accountable. It remains evident today in the police’s use of brutal force against Palestinian citizens who engage in legitimate protests, with total impunity, and in the police’s deliberate inaction in addressing crime within Palestinian towns and villages. This negligence is just one facet of Israel’s systematic and deliberate discrimination against its Palestinian citizens in all aspects of their lives, one which the Or Commission concluded must be eradicated. However, two decades later, this exclusion and discrimination against Palestinian citizens is emboldening the criminal organizations that the state fails to address. Meanwhile, the alarming numbers of killings of Palestinians is used as a pretext for introducing additional oppressive measures that exclusively target Palestinians. Israel’s entrenchment of racial policing only perpetuates this vicious cycle; to put an end to it, the state must first acknowledge that Palestinian lives matter.
Adalah (Justice in Arabic) is the first non-profit, non-sectarian Palestinian-run legal center in Israel and was established in November 1996