Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Families of those killed in October 2000 protest in West Jerusalem following the release of the Mazuz report, January 2008. (Adalah)
By Jonathan Cook
The Electronic Intifada, 26 February 2008
"On 2 October 2000, as the Israeli army was beginning its ruthless crackdown on the second intifada in the occupied territories, 17-year-old Aseel Asleh joined tens of thousands of other Palestinian citizens across Israel in taking to the streets in protest and in a show of solidarity with their kin across the Green Line.
A firm believer in nonviolence, Asleh wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a prominent Jewish and Arab coexistence group, Seeds of Peace, as he marched alongside family, friends and neighbors through his town of Arrabeh in northern Israel.
Within hours Asleh was dead, face down in an olive grove. A bullet, fired from a police gun at point-blank range, had severed an artery near the back of his neck in what looked suspiciously like an execution. Earlier he had been seen fleeing through the grove, chased by a police squad breaking up the demonstration.
Late last month, after a seven-year battle for justice, Asleh's parents and those of another 12 Palestinian demonstrators killed inside Israel at the start of the intifada heard that the policemen responsible for the deaths would almost certainly never stand trial......
"Arab blood is worthless"
Asleh's mother, Jamila, held aloft a picture of her son as crowds surged through the narrow alleys of the neighboring town of Sakhnin, where two more youths were killed. She told the marchers that the families would continue their struggle: "We shall not keep quiet and we shall show the world what a racist establishment this is, so that everyone knows what is taking place in the State of Israel."
Her characterization of the Israeli establishment as "racist" was far from inflammatory rhetoric. In October 2000, when she and her husband, Hassan, went to collect the body of their son, they were handed a hospital report card. Stamped on the front cover were the words "Enemy operation." A later official inquiry found that even the country's most senior police commanders believed Palestinian citizens to be "the enemy" and acted accordingly.
Shawki Khatib, chairman of the Palestinian minority's main political body, the High Follow-Up Committee, told the marchers that Mazuz's decision proved that, as far as the Israeli authorities were concerned, "Arab blood is worthless.".....
This month Aseel Asleh's Jewish friends in Seeds of Peace held a rally outside the Justice Ministry in an attempt to change Mazuz's decision. They handed in a petition with the following message: "If the murdered were Jews, you wouldn't dare close the file ... If the protesters were Jewish, even those who go wild, throwing rocks and even carrying firearms, no police officer would shoot and no demonstrator would be killed.""