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Police Used Excessive Force Against Israeli Arabs in 2000 Protests - Panel


A judicial inquiry into the fatal shooting of 13 Israeli Arabs nearly three years ago has criticized the Israeli police for the use of excessive force. At the same time, the report of the inquiry did not recommend action against the then-prime minister, Ehud Barak.

The three-member panel, headed by Israeli Justice Theodore Or, investigated the death of 13 Israeli Arabs who were shot by police during violent protests in October 2000.

Thousands of Arabs in Israel threw stones and blocked streets in a show of support for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, who had begun an uprising a few weeks earlier.

The report of the judicial inquiry found the Israeli police should not have used live fire by snipers to disperse crowds. It recommended the dismissal of several top officers.

The report also found that then Israeli leader Ehud Barak had misread the charged atmosphere among the more than one million Arab citizens of Israel.

But it stopped short of recommending sanctions against Mr. Barak, a move that could have prevented him making a return to the political arena.

The report came out strongly against his police minister at the time, Shlomi Ben-Ami, recommending that he should not be allowed to return to the post of Internal Security Minister in any future Israeli Government. The report says that Israeli authorities have failed in dealing with "the problems of a large minority within the Jewish majority."

"The government treatment of the Arab sector was characterized by prejudice and neglect," said the report.