The 20-year commemoration of the October 2000 killings (also known as the October 2000 Uprising) comes at a time of new developments regarding the 2017 Israeli police killing of Ya’akub Abu al-Qi’an, a 50-year-old Bedouin math teacher, according to Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
It demanded in a new statement an end to Israeli police killings of Palestinian citizens, and to the state culture of impunity – including a myriad of failures, omissions and the obstruction of justice in the course of so-called “investigations”, that perceives Palestinians as "enemies", and that allows Israeli law enforcement officers to escape accountability. The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel has also endorsed and adopted these demands.
There is a direct link between the closure of the Abu al-Qi’an case and the October 2000 cases, in which 13 Arab demonstrators were killed by police in Israel during protests throughout the country, said the press release.
These cases rely on the same policy of no criminal charges filed against law enforcement authorities, including the police, in cases involving the killing of Palestinian citizens of Israel, even where there is clear evidence of the illegal use of force. Israel's attorney general has argued that the criminal law should not be applied, as it may deter them from using necessary force. This policy leads to total impunity and a lack of accountability, and puts the lives of Palestinian citizens at risk, said Adalah.
Israeli law enforcement authorities responsible for the October 2000 killings and the killing of Ya'akub Abu al-Qi'an continue to shelter behind the wall of impunity built for them by Israel, despite clear evidence of criminality, conflicts of interest, and obstruction of justice by state authorities, leaving the victims and their families without a remedy, it added. This impunity also has a collective aspect, as it leaves all Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel vulnerable to state violence and encourages the recurrence of grave human rights violations against them.
In the United States, the 2020 murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans have mobilized millions of people in the US and around the world to protest against killings by police based on race and ethnic belonging. Treating the lives of Palestinian citizens of Israel as equal to other citizens first requires a genuine attempt to implement the Or Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations regarding the investigations of the October 2000 killings and the abolition of the policy of blanket impunity, said Adalah.
Twenty years after the October 2000 killings, and three years after the Israeli police killing of Ya'akub Abu al-Qi'an, Adalah continues the struggle on behalf of Palestinian victims of Israeli state violence.
In its new statement, Adalah makes key demands of Israeli state authorities that are intended to secure accountability and justice - both for the victims of the October 2000 killings and for the family of Ya'akub Abu al-Qi'an. Adalah’s demands are:
The establishment of an independent committee comprised of members known for their credibility and professionalism, and who are selected with the agreement of the Arab political leadership in Israel. The mandate of this committee, the recommendations of which should be legally binding, shall be as follows: a) To examine the failures of the investigations and the investigatory system regarding the October 2000 cases; b) To recommend the indictments of individuals at all levels responsible for the killings and injuries; and c) To investigate the individual killing cases of Palestinian citizens of Israel since 2000 that were closed by the PID.
Regarding the case of Abu al-Qi’an, the state should issue immediate indictments against those responsible for the killing, as well as members of the law enforcement authorities for their obstruction of justice.