Families of October riots victims to be compensated
State to compensate families of Israeli Arabs killed in October 200 riots, according to compromise approved by court. Compensation sum undisclosed; 11 out of 13 families sign agreement. State: We reached agreement in spite of our position that we are not responsible for damages caused
The agreement was presented to the Nazareth District Court on Thursday and was approved a year after the families filed a lawsuit. Eleven out of the 13 families signed the agreement.
As the agreement was signed, officials at the State Prosecutor's Office said that "in light of the tragic outcomes of the events and out of real desire to end the affair in an appropriate and reasonable manner, the State agreed to pay a sum agreed upon by the parties, in spite of its position that it is not responsible in principle for the damages caused as a result of the events."
The decision to receive the money and demand compensation from the State was not easy for the families, and was accompanied by arguments among the families.
Hassan Asla, the father of Assil who was killed in the riots and chairman of the bereaved parents committee, was against the idea from the beginning.
The idea was first raised when it was decided to establish a state commission of inquiry into the affair and the families were approached by representatives of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who asked to meet with them in order to reach a compensation agreement. The families refused.
In one of the meetings on the issue a great argument broke out, and the meeting ended with a decision not to file a legal claim for compensation. Some of the families, however, approached a legal firm and formed a lawsuit, which was eventually filed on September 2005 in light of the disagreements.
"There were even families in which the father objected and said that his son's blood was being sold for money, while the mother said that the situation was difficult and they have to continue living. It is a very sensitive issue which caused arguments both inside the families and between the families," said one of the people who accompanied the families.
Both the families and the Justice Ministry which formed the compensation offer refused to comment on the compensation sum.
State, police slammed
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, recently harshly criticized the State and the Police Investigation Unit's conduct during the riots in a new report.
The report concluded that The Police Investigation Unit (Mahash) cooperated with officers suspected of unlawfully killing 13 Israeli Arabs during the October 2000 riots.
“Mahash did not conduct any investigation into five of the killings, contrary to the Or Commission’s recommendation that it do so. Mahash presented a falsified report to the public, suggesting that it had conducted an intensive investigation, while in fact it did not gather any evidence itself," the center said in its report.
Hassan Asla said in response that "we will use all means until our goal is reached to put the murderers on trial. The crimes of the Israeli regime are worse than the Nazis' crimes."
Titled 'The Accused', the report slammed the Police Investigation Unit and State Comptroller Eran Shendar who headed the unit at the time.
The report was submitted to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and a demonstration was held to protest the failure of law enforcement authorities in leading a transparent investigation into the incident.
The Or Commission, which was commissioned in 2001 to investigate the incident, published its findings in 2003, ruled that there was no reason for the police to open fire at protesters.
It also noted that snipers were used for the first time to disperse protesters.