In wake of Israeli police violence at Nazareth protest, Adalah pushes for probe and clear guidelines for cops

During protest in Nazareth against visit of Israeli PM Netanyahu, Israeli police forces arrested 19 Palestinian citizens of Israel; officers hindered evacuation of two wounded who required urgent medical attention – including a young man now slated for head surgery and another who suffered a severe leg wound.

Staff members from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel were on the scene in Nazareth on Wednesday, 13 January 2021, when Israeli police employed extreme violence against residents protesting the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the northern city.


Adalah Detentions Coordinator Maria Zahran and Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi, together with volunteer lawyers, provided legal assistance to individuals detained and wounded by police during the protest in Nazareth.


Israeli police arrested 19 people (18 during the course of the protest and one additional individual outside the Nazareth police station). Two of the wounded were evacuated for urgent medical care.


Of those detained by Israeli police, seven were released later that same evening, five were released today unconditionally, and six were released with certain restrictive conditions.




The day following the police violence, Thursday, 14 January 2021, Adalah attorneys Sawsan Zaher and Wesam Sharaf sent an urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, and acting police commissioner Kobi Shabtai, demanding that they order an investigation into the violent conduct of Israeli police officers in Nazareth. Adalah also called for the issuance of clear orders to police officers of all ranks regarding the importance of freedom of expression and the freedom to of protest as basic constitutional rights, as well as regarding the rights of detainees.


As violent police suppression of the legal and legitimate political protest continued, Adalah sent two letters to the Israeli police commissioner.


The first letter demanded that officers refrain from obstructing the work of the legal aid team assisting detainees at the Nazareth police station. The second letter demanded that officers allow the evacuation to area hospitals and urgent care centers of detainees wounded by police during the protest.


As the incident continued to develop, Adalah staff learned about the need to evacuate detainees requiring medical treatment, including a young man with a previous skull fracture who yesterday suffered a blow to the head during his arrest and is now slated to undergo head surgery. Another man was severely wounded in the leg during his detention. Police eventually released them for medical attention.


In its letter, Adalah stressed that Israeli police would be held responsible for any complications or harm that might befall detainees as a result of delays in receiving medical attention.


Adalah commented on the Israeli police violence at the Nazareth protest:


“The demonstrators in Nazareth sought to express their dissent in legal and legitimate ways, and the police were required to defend their right to do so. Instead, Israeli officers employed extreme violence against them. This violence is a product of the very same systemic racism and incitement targeting Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel against which people were protesting today in Nazareth.”