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Israel to Reexamine October Riots File

The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, a group representing Arab citizens of Israel, is to end its hunger strike after Israel’s State Prosecutor’s office decided to reexamine the findings of a controversial police probe regarding Israeli-Arab riots in October 2000.

Some 13 Arabs, mostly Israeli citizens, were killed in the riots, which began as a solidarity protest with Palestinians shortly after violence between Israelis and Palestinians erupted.

The Israeli Arab community felt the police conduct was irresponsible, and led to the unwarranted death of 13 people.

The Police Investigation Division probed the case but announced on September 18 that it will close the case because “not enough evidence was found to put policemen and officers on trial.”

The Arab sector subsequently announced a week-long hunger strike in protest and said it would seek international legal assistance.

The reversal of the decision has given rise to claims from hawkish Israeli politicians that the judicial system is altering the legal system because of public pressure from the Arab sector.

The decision does not mean police officers involved will be tried, but the results of the investigation will be reconsidered.

Israeli Arabs constitute about one-sixth of the Israeli population. Many of them say they feel like second-class citizens and that the authorities discriminate against them.

The October 2000 riots have been an open wound for this population and have deepened the feeling of animosity between Israeli Arabs and the authorities.