Adalah and the Arab Students Union Demand a Criminal Investigation into Violent Assault on Arab Students at Netanya College

Adalah’s letter to the Attorney General, the State Attorney, and the Police Commissioner presents evidence indicating that the assault by Jewish-Israeli extremists was premeditated.

Today, 2 November 2023, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter on behalf of the Arab Students Movements Union to Israel’s Attorney General, State Attorney and Police Commissioner demanding the immediate initiation of a criminal investigation into incitement, violence, and premeditated assault against Palestinian students, citizens of Israel, at the Netanya College in central Israel.


CLICK HERE to read the letter (Hebrew)    


On the evening of 28 October 2023, hundreds of Jewish Israeli civilians stormed the campus of Netanya Academic College and gathered outside the dormitories. The rioting crowd called for the expulsion of Palestinian students, citizens of Israel, and chanted racist slogans, including “Death to Arabs”, “Your mother is a whore”, “may your village burn”, and other derogatory slogans. These violent acts were documented in video footage clearly indicating that some of the rioters were armed with weapons, including clubs, and other tools of violence. The footage further shows that some of the rioters attempted to forcibly enter the building where the Palestinian students had taken shelter, with the apparent intent to cause them physical harm.


This violent event concluded three hours after it started, with the police escorting the students out of the dormitories, while the extremists continued to attack the vehicles they had fled in. None of the Jewish-Israeli rioters were arrested or interrogated.


In the letter, Adalah argued that the event was not spontaneous in nature, but rather a coordinated assault. Screenshots of WhatsApp threads in groups, of which some of the rioters are members, provide clear evidence that they planned and coordinated their arrival at the Netanya Academic College with the declared intent to harm the Arab students residing there.


Adalah further referred to documents which indicate that the matter of removing Palestinian students from the dormitories was previously discussed at both the administrative level of the dormitories and within the Municipality of Netanya, as well as among right-wing activist groups in the city. Adalah attached a document to its letter titled “Summary of a Security Meeting at Netanya College,” dated 18 October 2023, which suggests that an agreement was reached that “there will be no more students in the dormitories, as the dormitories willused to accommodate families from the Gaza envelope and other areas.” The participants in this “security meeting” included the President of Netanya College and representatives from right-wing Jewish groups identified as “Citizens Defending Kiryat Hasharon” and “Armed [Individuals] of East Netanya”.


In light of the substantial evidence and the glaring absence of police action taken against the rioters and organizers, in the letter, Adalah and the Arab Students Movements Union demanded the immediate initiation of a criminal investigation into offenses under the Penal Code and the Counter-Terrorism Law, including acts constituting incitement, assault, and organizing of such acts. Adalah emphasized the critical importance of conducting a thorough investigation and ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, which were apparently driven by nationalist and racist motivations, particularly given the clear threat posed to the lives and well-being of Palestinian students. Failure to initiate an investigation would send out a dangerous message and encourage individuals and groups to continue targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel based on their national identity, without fear of consequences for their violent actions.


Adalah commented:


“Since the war began on 7 October, Israel has launched an unprecedented campaign of arrests against Palestinian citizens of Israel for alleged speech offenses, locking dozens of them up based solely on their posts on social media. At the same time, law enforcement agencies are blatantly turning a blind eye to brutal violence and premeditated assaults carried out by Jewish Israelis against Palestinian citizens. The violent riot in Netanya, which was well-documented, was endorsed by public figures and concluded without the Israeli police taking any action against the perpetrators. Meanwhile, the openly racist Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, continues to arm civilians en masse and to establish additional Israeli-Jewish “civilian militias”. Israel's police, which is subordinate to Ben-Gvir, is chronically failing to address spreading violence against Palestinians, or the arming of Jewish-Israeli civilians, and therefore risks encouraging catastrophic acts of aggression against Palestinian citizens.”


The Arab Students Movements Union commented: 


“The assault took place as the Union is reaching out to international organizations, diplomats, and authorities in an effort to protect Arab students at Israeli academic institutions, who are currently facing incitement, persecution, and violent attacks. During this attack, students were even assaulted in their vehicles while attempting to leave their dormitories. The attack involved hundreds of Jewish-Israelis, some of whom were armed, and some tried to break into the dormitories while chanting slogans calling for violence against Arab students. Additional steps and collective initiatives for the students will be announced in the near future. We reiterate our unwavering commitment to stand with all student members of the union, creating a comprehensive safety network and shielding them from continuous daily incitement.”


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Adalah appeals prosecutor’s decision to close the investigation against all Jewish Israeli suspects in the killing of Mussa Hassouna in Lod during the May 2021 violent events