'Arabs won't forget October 2000 killings'
Family members of 13 Arab Israelis killed by police visit graves of loved ones. Father of one of victims says, 'Time has come to switch barrel of gun with bouquet of flowers,' criticizes that responsible parties not identified. 'If it were Jews, would case have been closed?' he wonders
Ten years on, Israel's Arabs hold memorial rallies in commemoration of the October 2000 riots. Arab towns throughout the north held memorial ceremonies on Friday for the 13 people killed in the October events. Other locales held quiet protest marches to mark the anniversary. Family members of the victims visited their loved ones' graves.
There was a general strike in all Arab towns on Friday.
Abdul Menem, from Sakhnin, whose son Walid was killed in the October events, said that even a decade later, the families feel disrespected by the country.
"We are no longer the Arabs of 1948. We have become an educated society. I have a son who is a doctor, another son who is a student, and a daughter who is a teacher. If Walid were alive, he certainly would have fulfilled his dream of becoming an electrical engineer. So, don’t sell us stories that they don't know who killed our sons. Where is it heard of that 13 people are killed in a democratic country and no one is found guilty? If they had been Jews, would the case have been closed?" he quipped.
Despite Menem's sense of injustice, he still harbors a sliver of hope for a better future. "The time has come to switch the barrel of the gun with a bouquet of flowers. The Jews are our brothers; the statesmen are the ones trying to ruin this."
'Don't sell us stories about not knowing who did killing.' (Archive photo: Ofer Amram)
Hassan Asala, from Arraba, whose son Asil was killed in the riots, shares Menem's sentiments regarding the case being closed. "The time has come for us to put our hands on the murderers. I can't believe in the law enforcement authorities in the country, not in Israeli justice or law. We must continue operating on the international channel. They are the ones who will take this investigation and will teach the State of Israel how to reveal the truth."
Hassan remembers exactly how his son was killed. "I live that moment every minute of every hour for the last ten years. We have become accustomed to the pain and longing. Asil would have been a 27-year-old man today. I see his friends and think where Asil could have been today, what he would be doing," said the father.
The chairman of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee called upon the attorney general on Thursday to reopen the investigations of the October 2000 events.
Asala said that he does not believe in this path, while Menem said he supports reopening the files.
"Even if 50 or 100 years pass, we will not forget and will continue investigate the truth until we reach the murderers. We expect the State of Israel to understand that we live here in this country on land that has been in the family for generations, and we must be treated with respect," said Menem.
"The call made by the Arab High Monitoring Committee is in vain. However thinks the State of Israel will do something is naïve. We must only pursue the international channel," said Asala.
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