The Haifa District Court ordered on Monday, May 21, the release of all 19 demonstrators arrested the previous Friday while protesting against Israel’s deadly actions in the Gaza Strip, in which more than 100 Palestinians have been killed by soldiers since March 30. During the court hearing, the police unsuccessfully requested that the release of seven of the 19 detainees be delayed.
One of the activists arrested was Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Advocacy Center. Farah was videoed walking to the protest and leaving the area under arrest but standing unassisted. However, he was subsequently hospitalized and on Saturday he arrived in court on crutches. Farah told the court that after he was arrested and was in police custody, an officer deliberately broke his knee.
“When I was brought to the police station with my son, I found him on the floor, covered in blood. When I asked the police officer, ‘Who gave you the right to treat my son this way?’ his response was to break my knee,” Farah told the court. “I intend to file a suit against the police,” he added. “They should stop saying that this is a democracy,” Farah said in a video taken by the Hadash Party student group at Haifa University. “What happened here in Haifa during the past two days is a disgrace and an insult to every democratic regime.”
“The only democracy in the Middle East does not need to break the leg of a protester while he is under arrest,” said Bassel Farah, Jafar’s son, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. “No one will break him,” he said of his father.
On Sunday night, May 20, several hundred people, Jews and Arabs, attended a protest in Haifa’s German Colony organized by Hadash, the Communist Party of Israel (CPI), Standing Together and Combatants for Peace. They protested the mass killing of Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip and the arrest of the demonstrators the previous Friday. Among the demonstrators were the chairman of the Joint List MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List), MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash – Joint List), and Secretary General of the CPI, Adel Amer. At the same time, a few dozen far-right demonstrators held a counter-rally under the banner “Return Haifa to Israel.”
Participants in the left-wing demonstration carried placards saying “We oppose the occupation,” “Jews and Arabs together,” “You won’t silence Haifa” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” They shouted: “Blood-soaked regime, stop killing children,” “Fascism won’t be tolerated” and “Gaza, don’t despair, we’ll end the occupation.” The right-wing demonstrators flew the Israeli flag, sang the national anthem, Hatikva, and shouted “The people of Israel live” and “Our Father (God) lives.”