In the afternoon on 1 January 2009, the Israeli police released the actors Hanan Helou and Saleh Bakri from detention. They had been arrested the night before at a demonstration in Haifa where placards were raised and candles lit in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip being bombarded by Israeli air attacks. The demonstration took place on Ben Gurion Street, close to midnight, when others were crowded into cafes and restaurants welcoming the New Year.
During the peaceful demonstration, without any warning, a group of police officers approached the actress, Hanan Helou, and tore up the placard she was carrying and beat her causing injuries all over her body; they also beat everyone present and anyone who asked them to stop. In addition, the police severely beat the actor, Saleh Bakri, and arrested him and his friend. Following the arrest, the police refused to provide medical assistance to the detainees, despite the injuries and nausea suffered by the actress Helou.
Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn went to the police station in Haifa and insisted to meet the detainees. The next morning, she went to court to represent them at extension of detention hearings. However, prior to the court hearing, Attorney Kohn persuaded the police that there was no justification for the arrests, that the demonstration had been peaceful, and that many witnesses could testify that the police broke up the demonstration violently for no reason. Based on these representations, the police released the detainees and cancelled the request for an extension of their detention, provided that they do not enter Ben Gurion Street for the next seven days.