Several hundred persons, Arabs and Jews, participated in a demonstration in the German Colony in Haifa on late Friday afternoon, June 1, to express solidarity with the nearly 2 million Palestinian people living under the Israeli blockade and repression of the Gaza Strip.
Protesters waved Palestinian and red flags and signs in Hebrew and Arabic that said, “We’re against the occupation” and “Solidarity from Haifa to Gaza.” The Communist Party of Israel and the Hadash front organized the protest.
Among the protesters were the head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, Hadash, MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List), former Hadash MK and the current head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, Mohammad Barakeh, members of the Hadash fraction in the Histadrut, and leading activists of the Young Communist League in Israel. “The Palestinian people are fighting against the siege and against the occupation, and we, from here, are fighting our own way,” Odeh told journalists.
Also among the participants was Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center, whose knee was broken by a police officer following his arrest in another Haifa demonstration against Israel’s brutality in Gaza two weeks ago. “I won’t be able to walk too much in my condition, but I want people to see they didn’t break us,” said Farah. “There’s a message here: you can’t suppress a different opinion, and I won’t aid this suppression.”
Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights filed a joint complaint last week calling on the Israeli Health Ministry and the director of Haifa’s Bnai Zion Medical Center to open investigations into suspicions that police illegally intervened in medical decisions and pressured medical staff to violate ethical norms during the Farah’s treatment. The complaint, based on testimony from Farah and Bnai Zion medical staff on duty at the time of the incident, includes four primary claims: The police pressured doctors to release Farah; they demanded that medical information be concealed from Farah; they handcuffed Farah to his bed during treatment; police verbally attacked the hospital’s medical staff.
Farah was handcuffed to his bed by an arm and, periodically, his leg for the majority of his stay in the hospital, in direct contravention of medical ethics, which explicitly forbid this practice. In addition, testimony revealed that police officers who stayed with Farah during the period of his hospitalization mocked and verbally abused medical staff. One police officer said to a nurse wearing a Muslim headscarf: “We can see you are inciting everyone.”
Another officer told an intern who sought to issue a medical order to remove the Farah’s handcuffs: “Your decision will be taken to the court and if it was found to have been lacking medical grounds, you will pay for it.” Israeli police also prevented Jafar’s lawyer and MK Ayman Odeh from meeting with him at the time of his release from hospital.
On Friday, June 1, a young Palestinian woman was killed by live fire and 40 were wounded during the extension of “the Great March of Return” demonstrations near the Israel-Gaza border, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Razan Najar, a 21-year-old volunteer for a medical team helping wounded protesters, was shot dead near Khan Yunis.