Background

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October Events


On Thursday, September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon visited the Haram al-Sharif compound, site of the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was an incendiary political act in the wake of the failed Camp David summit. Sharon, the former general and defense minister who spearheaded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and championed settlement-building in the West Bank and Gaza, was now the chair of the Likud Party and leader of the opposition. He would be the number-one beneficiary of a renewal of hostilities.

On Friday, September 29, protests began in Jerusalem which soon spread to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the course of that day and the days that followed, tens of Palestinian demonstrators were killed or injured by Israeli security forces. The demonstrations intensified, eventually being labeled as the Second Intifada.

Palestinians inside Israel demonstrated in large numbers in early October, in solidarity with their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli police used live ammunition, sniper-fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas against the unarmed protestors; hundreds were injured and 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, as well as 1 Palestinian from Gaza who was inside Israel. Known as “Black October,” these events marked the first time since Land Day on March 30, 1973 that such brutal force was used by Israeli security forces against Palestinian citizens.

Seventeen-year old peace activist, Aseel Asleh, from Arabeh village in the Galilee, was the youngest of the demonstrators killed. According to his parents, who were eyewitnesses, Aseel had been standing apart from the demonstration outside his village, when three policemen charged him. Aseel fled toward a nearby olive grove, pursued by the police who struck him on his back with their rifle butts. Aseel stumbled and fell in the olive grove where the trees obstructed his parents’ ability to see him. They heard the shot. According to the doctor in Nahariya hospital who examined Aseel’s body, the bullet wound in the back of his neck appeared to have come from live ammunition, fired at point-blank range.


The Or Commission


In November 2000, the Israeli government announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the October events, to be headed by Judge Theodore Or. The mandate of the Commission was to investigate the clashes between the security forces and Arab and Jewish citizens, culminating in the death and injury of Israeli citizens. The commission released its findings on September 2, 2003.

The recommendations that came out of the Or Commission acknowledged the complexity of the relationship between the Palestinian citizens and the state of Israel. The findings discussed the historical background, the years of discrimination, the disenfranchising of the Palestinian citizens by the state. The commission chastised the behavior of the inciters, organizers and participants in the events from all sectors, and the security forces.

However, regarding accountability for the twelve Palestinian citizens who were killed, the Or Commission stated that they did not have enough information to indict. The Commission recommended that the police hold its own internal investigation of the police officers involved.

For an English summary of the Or Commission Report findings, please click HERE:

The Police Investigation Unit did nothing for a year. Then, as a starting point in their investigation, they demanded that the families of the bereaved exhume their sons and have autopsies performed, four years after the killings, long after there would be any forensic value to such autopsies. The families refused. On September 18, 2005, the Ministry of Justice’s Police Investigation Unit published their recommendations—to close all inquiries, citing lack of evidence and lack of cooperation from the families.

Initially, Israel’s Attorney General Menachem Mazuz backed the Police Investigation Unit’s recommendations, but, after intense political pressure from the Palestinian leadership inside Israel, including the families of the victims, he agreed to re-examine the findings.

On Januray 27, 2008, Mazuz announced at a press conference that he was supporting the the Police Investigation Unit’s decision of 2005, and closed the cases.

Readings/performances of There is a Field took place in October 2010 in 40 cities in18 different countries!

ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA
ARLINGTON, VA
ASHFIELD, MA, USA
BROOKLYN, NY, USA
CARDIFF, WALES
CHICAGO, IL, USA
CHITUNGWIZA, ZIMBABWE
CIAPAS, MEXICO
DERRY, NORTH OF IRELAND
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
HAIFA, ISRAEL
HARRISONBURG, VA, USA
IOWA CITY, IA
JENIN, PALESTINE
JERUSALEM, PALESTINE
KENNESAW, GA
LAKELAND, FL, USA
LINCOLN, NE, USA
LONDON, UK
LOS ANGELES, CA, USA
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, USA
MOUNT LAKE TERRACE, WA
MUMBAI, INDIA
NAIROBI, KENYA
NEWPORT, RI, USA
NEW DEHLI, INDIA
OLYMPIA, WA, USA
OTTAWA, CANADA
PARIS, FRANCE
PURCHASE, NY, USA
REIMS, FRANCE
SALMIYA, KUWAIT
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
SANTA MONICA, CA, USA
SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
SEATTLE, WA, USA
SKOPJE, MACEDONIA
TAMPA, FL USA
TRUMBULL, CT
VALPARAISO, CHILE