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Israeli Inquiry Clears Police Who Killed 13 Israeli Arabs in 2000


A state inquiry in Israel has decided not to prosecute police who shot dead 13 Israeli Arabs during riots in 2000. Israel's Arab community is furious.

Israel launched an official inquiry after police shot and killed 13 Israeli Arabs during riots at the start of the Palestinian uprising five years ago. The killings shocked Israel's Arab citizens, who make up about 20 percent of the population. They charged that it was excessive use of force.

But the report found that police were justified in opening fire because their lives may have been in danger. The case was closed because of lack of evidence.

The families of the victims are furious.

"I blame the entire Israeli leadership for killing our children," said Hassan Assaleh, whose son was among the dead. "I feel anger, frustration and sadness."

Israeli Arab analyst Wadia Abu Nasser says the inquiry is a whitewash.

"It will affect negatively the Arab-Jewish relations as a whole. There is still some mistrust between Arab and Jewish citizens, and it affects the entire nation," Mr. Abu Nasser says.

Guy Reif, one of the policemen involved in the shootings, was exonerated.

"The inquiry uncovered reality and the truth," Mr. Reif said. "It's now clear that we acted in self-defense."

But Israeli Arabs don't buy it (are not accepting it). They believe the killings underscore their dilemma in Israeli society, that they don't enjoy the same rights and privileges as Israeli Jews. They say the use of lethal force against citizens of the state is discrimination.

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