New Report by Adalah: Brutal Suppression of Palestinian Protests During the May 2021 Events Reaffirms Israel’s Long Standing Apartheid Policies in Law Enforcement

According to the report, excessive use of force by Israeli police against Palestinian protestors, and the politicized detentions and indictments that followed, are indicative of a two-tiered, segregated system of law enforcement: one for Palestinians and one for Jewish Israelis.

On 20 June 2023, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel published a new report, containing an extensive analysis of the violent and illegal actions of the Israeli law enforcement system during and following the May 2021 events,commonly referred to by Palestinians as “The Unity Intifada” or the “Uprising of Dignity”.


Two Years After the May 2021 Events – The Uprising of Dignity: Israel’s use of excessive force and racial segregation against Palestinians continues


CLICK HERE to read the report in English 

CLICK HERE to read the report in Arabic.

Please note a Hebrew version of the report is forthcoming.


The report, based on information gathered and obtained by Adalah,  exposes the existence of two separate, racial law enforcement policies towards citizens of Israel. Under the first policy, in which Palestinian citizens are viewed as enemies, the Israeli authorities declared states of emergency in their towns, tightened surveillance over them, arrested them, and endangered their lives. In contrast, Jewish Israeli citizens were governed during and after May 2021 by a policy of relative impunity that saw evidence of wrongdoing intentionally concealed, vicious attacks treated as acts of self-defense, and the law employed to shield them from criminal accountability.


Adalah’s report details:

  • Police use of highly dangerous, sometimes lethal, weapons, as well as other forms of excessive force, against protestors and other civilians.

  • Arbitrary arrests of hundreds of Palestinians, in violation of their rights.

  • Extreme violations by state authorities of Palestinians’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly. 

  • Collaboration of law enforcement and other state authorities with Jewish civilians to allow them to commit acts of violence against Palestinians and subsequently provide them with complete impunity.


The violations committed by Israeli state authorities – including the police – during May 2021 constitute gross violations of international law, including practices which constitute state-sanctioned racial segregation and violence and violate the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Therefore, Adalah calls on the international community, including the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, as well as international tribunals such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice to act immediately to protect Palestinians from state oppression and fully investigate these violations committed by state actors – and those they protected – during May 2021 and beyond.


Adalah stresses that although this report focuses in particular on the events of May 2021 inside Israel, against Palestinian citizens of the state, the police conduct detailed therein speaks to a broader system of oppression against Palestinians that has existed since Israel’s founding; a system that is based on power relations between Jewish supremacy and anti-Palestinian racism, which the colonial Israeli regime uses as a comprehensive legal framework throughout all territories under its control.


Adalah commented:
“Two years after these events, the conduct of the Israeli police continues with the same patterns of violence and abuse. Currently, the Israeli government is advancing more policies and legislative measures in order to deepen even further Israel’s racist policies aimed at entrenching Jewish supremacy, along with the full establishment of an apartheid legal system. These include the recent subordination of  the police under the purview of the National Security Minister, which we recently challenged in court, and Netanyahu’s initiative to deploy the Shin Bet into Palestinians communities under the pretext of fighting crime. Israel's failure to address the unprecedented rise in the rates of violence and crime within the Palestinian community is directly connected to the hostile position taken by the Israeli police towards Palestinian citizens of Israel. The police have consistently made clear that they view Palestinian citizens as an enemy, and as a result, both over-police them – for purposes of political repression – and under-police them when it comes to protecting them and their rights.”


Related Press Releases:

New Position Paper by Adalah on the Legality of the Palestinian Flag, Amid Governmental Decision to Advance a Bill to Criminalize Raising It 9 March 2023


Adalah: New Israeli Government’s Policy Guidelines Indicate Officials’ Intent to Commit Crimes under Intl. Law 10 January 2023

Israeli Police Raid Palestinian Village of Sandala Three Weeks After Protests Over Murder of a Resident by Jewish-Israeli 24 May 2023


Adalah and the High Follow up Committee Petition the Supreme Court against the amendment subordinating the Police to National Security Minister Ben Gvir 20 April 2022


Israel Advances Establishment of “National Guard”, Entrenching Racial Law Enforcement 3 April 2023


Adalah demands Israeli police end mass arrests of Palestinian citizens 27 May 2021


Adalah’s emergency legal representation of Palestinian protestors in Israel 21 May 2021


Arab leadership inside Israel calls on international community to protect Palestinian citizens of Israel 16 May 2021


Related Resources:


The October 2000 Killings (October Uprising) - information on Adalah’s website.


For more information, contact:

Ari Remez

Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel



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