A senior police official dropped a bomb Wednesday evening, announcing that he has decided, along with the attorney general, to review the investigation into the October 2000 riots that left 13 Israeli Arabs dead.
Head of the Police Investigation Unit Herzl Shviro said the move was ordered even though an appeal against the decision not to press charges against police officers in connection with the deaths has not been filed yet.
“As the (victims) families’ representatives announced they may not file an appeal…we decided to examine the conclusions (of the investigation) as if an appeal was submitted,” Shviro said in a Channel 2 interview scheduled to be aired on Saturday.
“An examination is the right thing to do. It’s the serious thing to do…we’ll do it in the coming days,” he said.
Justice Ministry: Not reopened, but reexamined
The Justice Ministry explained Thursday that the police investigation will not be reopened.
In wake of numerous requests by Knesset members and public figures, the attorney-general and state prosecution has decided to reexamine the conclusions, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the case will not be reopened, but rather appealed by state prosecution attorney Shay Nitzan, responsible for handling appeals against the Police Investigation Unit.
"An appeal is the only acceptable way to bring about closure regarding the decisions, it is part of the ministry's organizational culture," one official said.
Knesset members, public figures and various organizations requested the attorney general reexamine the decisions reached following a police investigation. As a result, the Justice Ministry decided to launch an appeal process.
Heads of the Arab-Israeli Supreme Monitoring Committee convened an emergency session in the wake of the police decision to reopen the investigation.
Members of the Committee said the police announcement is a “positive decision” and marks an achievement for the Arab population and all lovers of democracy in Israel.
‘Expelled out of democracy’
Earlier, a Ynet reporter spoke to members of the Monitoring Committee, among them Knesset members, heads of local authorities and public figures. They all painted a sad and disturbing picture of increasing frustration and neglect on the part of the State.
Protesting the police investigation (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
MK Issam Makhoul said: "We are under the impression that the State is expelling the Arab population out of democracy. Here they are also saying that the right to life is not absolute."
"There is a connection between the intifada and the October Riots: More than the latest intifada was Palestinian, it was an intifada of the Israeli right-wing against the (peace) process, and I think they have succeeded in it," he said.
"The State created the atmosphere, treated the Arab community as an enemy, and thus allowed police officers to shoot at us freely," Makhoul added.
"Everyone said 'Here, they are attacking us everywhere – the Palestinians in the territories, Hizbullah in the North and the Arabs in Israel.' At that moment they set the rule of calling snipers, shooting and killing, and not treating them as protesting citizens but as a hostile public," Makhoul said.
- Tal Rosner contributed to the report