Adalah Files Complaint Against Police Attacks on MKs Barakeh, Makhoul and Tibi and other Demonstrators


On 30 October 2001, Adalah Staff Attorney Jamil Dakwar filed a complaint with Eran Shindar, the Director ofMahash (the Ministry of Justice Police Investigation Unit) and MK Avraham Burg, the Chairperson of the Knesset, calling for an investigation and appropriate legal action to be taken against police officers who assaulted Arab Members of the Knesset (MKs) - Mohammad BarakehIssam Makhoul and Ahmad Tibi -and other Palestinians citizen demonstrators in Tira and Taibeh earlier that day. The MKs and the other protestors were demonstrating over land expropriations in the Arab towns of Tira and Taibeh for the construction of the Trans-Israel Highway (Road #6).


In its letter, Adalah stated that:


  1. Police officers used excessive and illegal force against the three Arab MKs and other Palestinian citizen demonstrators, resulting in the injury of scores of people. The police assaulted several demonstrators with batons. According to eyewitnesses, the police also attacked MKs Barakeh,Makhoul and Tibi, who were present at the demonstration, while they attempted to negotiate with them and with the individuals who were overseeing the construction of the highway.

  2. According to eyewitnesses, in an attempt to reach an understanding with those overseeing the construction of the highway, the three MKs approached a bulldozer that was being protected by a large number of police officers. When the police commander of the Sharon region saw the MKs approaching the bulldozer, he ordered the officers to prevent them from reaching it. Subsequently, the officers confronted the MKs. Several officers pushed MK Makhoul to the ground and attacked him, causing him extensive injury. Another officer hit MK Tibi with a baton, resulting in injuries to his leg that required medical treatment. 

  3. Later that day, Yassam (Special Unit) officers attacked several Palestinian citizens as they demonstrated on the contested land. While MK Barakeh attempted to separate the demonstrators from the Yassam officers, one of the officers hit him in the face with a baton, resulting in injuries that required medical treatment. Eyewitnesses reported that the Yassam officers specifically singled MK Barakeh out of a crowd of several demonstrators.

  4. The police officers’ behavior is of grave concern in light of the investigation currently underway by the official Commission of Inquiry, which is inquiring into the killing of 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel and the injury of hundreds more as a result of the excessive use of force by the Israeli police. The assaults on the Arab MKs and other protestors this week reveal that the police continue to employ violent means of responding to Palestinian demonstrators. The police denied the demonstrators’ representatives the opportunity to negotiate with the individuals overseeing the construction of the highway in order to end the dispute and prevent further escalation. Furthermore, the police failed to use alternative means to disperse the demonstrators, such as water cannons.

  5. In demonstrations involving Israeli Jewish protestors, the police behaved very differently. For example, recently, when a group of environmentalists gathered to demonstrate against the construction of the Trans-Israel Highway, and when a group of employees staged protestsagainst the closing of the Rafael weapons factory, clashes broke out between the demonstrators and the police. Yet, in these instances, the police did not use excessive force or violence as they did against Palestinian citizen demonstrators from Tira and Taibeh.

  6. The use of excessive force by the police constitutes a violation of the demonstrators’ right of freedom of expression. In this situation, Palestinian citizens of Israel are denied the right to demonstrate freely and openly, a right that is granted to all other citizens of the state.


Adalah also sent copies of the letter to the Minister of Internal Security, Uzi Landau, and to Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein.