Demand Accountability. Demand Freedom of Expression. Support ACRI.

Dear Friends,

In parallel to the protests of Palestinians along the Gaza border, which began on March 30th 2018, groups of Israeli citizens – both Jews and Arabs – began holding legal demonstrations and vigils condemning the loss of life and violence against civilians,  and demanding  accountability.

During the Gaza protests, Israeli military forces used excessive and lethal force, including live fire, to disperse crowds. As a result, over 100 people were killed (60 in just one day!) and more than 10,000 were injured, including women children. All are Palestinian.

In response ACRI, together with other human rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding the Israeli military abide by its own ethical code of not using lethal force against unarmed civilians.

Politicians branded the demonstrations as an attack on Israeli sovereignty and in so doing ignore the reasons behind them: 70 years of Nakba, 50 years of occupation, and over a decade-long blockade that has embittered the lives of the Gazan public through a destroyed economy, collapsing infrastructure, unprecedented unemployment, and a dying healthcare system that has pushed the Strip to an impending humanitarian crisis.

Last Friday May 18th 2018, in Haifa, a legal demonstration was dispersed again with violence. Police arrested 21 demonstrators, among them Jafar Farah, Director of Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel. According to reports, the Israeli Police used severe violence and Farah’s leg was broken. None of the demonstrators were armed.

ACRI joined 37 civil society organizations in issuing an urgent appeal to the Attorney General and the Israeli Police Chief in which we demanded immediate personal intervention in order to investigate and justify the detention and injury of Mr. Farah and others. We also demanded that the Attorney General convey a clear and public message to the Police and the law enforcement agencies concerning the importance of freedom of protest and expression, and the importance of civil society organizations and civil activity to organize protests and demonstrations.

ACRI also issued a strongly worded letter to Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav for racist statements made in the media at the expense of Arab protestors and for complimenting the Police for its handling of the situation.

These events in Haifa leave us heavy hearted. They join a long line of claims against the Israeli Police for its use of violence against individuals – frequently the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel – demanding to exercise their legitimate right to demonstrate against injustice. They are also indicative of the political climate in which the Israeli government is cracking down on civil society and the legitimacy of public action.

Demand Accountability. Demand Freedom of Expression. Support ACRI.

Adv. Raghad Jaraisy, Director of Arab Minority Rights Unit

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Categories: Arab Minority Rights, Freedom of Expression, Right to Protest

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