Eyewitnesses, videos appear to indicate illegal and violent Israeli police conduct at Umm al-Fahm protest

Adalah lodges formal complaint with Justice Ministry's PID, demand investigation into the incidents in which police employed excessive force and wounded dozens of Palestinian citizens.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority in Israel filed a complaint with the Israeli Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department (PID) on 30 March 2021 against police officers suspected of assaulting participants in a protest in Umm al-Fahm roughly a month prior, on 26 February 2021.


Adalah filed the complaint on behalf of Knesset Yousef Jabareen (Hadash /Joint List), Umm al-Fahm Mayor Dr. Samir Subhi Mahamid, and three other demonstrators.


In the complaint, Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf presented a series of eyewitness testimonies and videos that indicate serious suspicions of illegal conduct by Israeli police forces that resulted in the wounding of dozens of protesters, including one man who suffered serious wounds and required head surgery.


The sequence of events documented in dozens of videos taken by protesters both at ground level as well as from aerial drones appears to indicate that police commanders issued orders to forcefully disperse the demonstration before it even began.


Videos also document Israeli officers attacking demonstrators with unreasonable, disproportionate force and potentially life-threatening weapons.


CLICK HERE or below to view drone footage of the protest


After Friday prayers, protesters in Umm al-Fahm began to march towards the city's main entrance, carrying 21 mock coffins symbolizing the number of people murdered in Arab communities. Police forces, accompanied by a "skunk" water cannon truck, which contains a foul-smelling liquid, awaited the procession close to the city's entrance. The "skunk" water cannon opened fire just minutes after the protest started.


Police forces also fired stun grenades at protesters in this initial barrage.


In a subsequent incident, videos depict police forcefully dispersing a group of protesters peacefully chanting and applauding near the city's entrance


These videos show Israeli undercover forces targeting individual protesters and beating them along with other police officers. It also appears that Israeli officers employed close-quarters firing of tear gas and stun grenades. These shootings resulted in the severe wounding of an individual who later required surgery on his head.


CLICK HERE or below to watch the video


In addition to the shooting and physical violence on the part of Israeli officers that resulted in the wounding of dozens of protest participants, an officer struck the mayor of Umm al-Fahm in the face with the butt of his assault rifle, and MK Jabareen was hit by crowd dispersal weapons.


Israeli police also used disproportionate force in the arrests of four individuals, one of whom lost consciousness when he was tased in the neck by an Israeli officer – in contravention of regulations governing police use of tasers.


CLICK HERE or below to watch a video of these incidents


The affidavits attached to Adalah's PID complaint paint a picture of participants in a legitimate, legal, non-violent protest who were brutally attacked and wounded by Israeli police officers. Adalah therefore demands the PID investigate the offenses.


Adalah also demands investigations into senior Israeli police commanders responsible for the handling of the Umm al-Fahm protest and who issued orders to officers on the scene.


CLICK HERE to read the complaint and affidavits [Hebrew]


Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf commented:


"This was not an incident in which a few individual Israeli cops used excessive force during a confrontation with Palestinian demonstrators. Someone in Israeli police command decided – without any reasonable or legal justification – that the legitimate demonstration in Umm al-Fahm should be forcibly dispersed. Police activated undercover forces and officers – acting as if they were participating in a military operation – employed force and violence in a manner that turned the routine, weekly, non-violent demonstration into a battlefield. The variety of tactics and weaponry Israeli police employed against protest participants attest to officers' perception of Palestinian citizens as an enemy. If Israeli law enforcement intends to demonstrate that something has changed in their attitude toward Palestinian citizens of Israel since the October 2000 killings, then those responsible for this continued violence must bear criminal responsibility for their actions".