Haifa, Saturday, 19 May 2018. Demonstrators have been gathering daily to peacefully exercise their right to protest and stand in solidarity with the “Great March of Return” victims. As the protests in Haifa have continued, police have escalated their use of violence against protesters culminating in mass arrests and widespread brutality witnessed yesterday evening, Friday, 18 May 2018.

Police officers and Special Forces arrived to the protest armed and equipped to disrupt the peaceful demonstration. Police rapidly barged in and charged the crowd, beating the demonstrators without provocation and making sporadic arrests, as is clearly evident from video documentation and photographs taken at the scene.

Twenty-one people were arrested in Haifa. Many, if not all, of the detainees (reports are still incoming) were brutally beaten by the arresting officers while in custody at the police station and in interrogation rooms, some while handcuffed. Some of the victims were taken to the Emergency Room (ER) and four are hospitalized for serious injuries. Amongst the hospitalized, Jafar Farah, Director of the Mossawa Center, who was rushed to the ER with a broken knee and severe blunt trauma injuries to the chest and abdomen sustained during a brutal attack on him by police officers while in custody.

The undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel wish to express our deepest concerns and outrage at this brutal conduct by the Israeli police against unarmed protesters, and demand the immediate release of all detainees. We also request a full and independent investigation into the unjustified arrests and beatings of protesters while in police custody.

Israel has increased its systematic suppression of the basic rights of citizens to freedom of assembly, protest, and expression, some of the most fundamental human rights, in response to peaceful demonstrations launched in solidarity with the Gaza protests in Haifa and elsewhere. It is the state’s responsibility to protect these rights, in accordance with international human rights laws, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If Israel refuses to protect the basic human rights of its citizens, then the international community has a duty to intervene and take a firm and decisive stand against these violations.

Below is a list of the protestors detained in Haifa on18 May 2018:

Bilal Zidani

Mahmood Taha

Said Swidan

Yoram Bar Chaim

Jafar Farah

Naif Shaquor

Bisan Farah

Majd Azzam

Ali Mawassi

Ammar Abu Qandeel

Maher Salamy

Mohammad Kayal

Emad Kayal

Anan Odeh

Bashar Ali

Fadi Andraus

Najwan Abu Alala

Oz Marinov

Shady Kassis

Osama Tanous

The above statement is signed by:

Mossawa Center

Women Against Violence

Al Tufula Center

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Kayan – Feminist Organization

The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA)

7amleh- The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media

Ad’ar – Forum of Professionals to Oppose the Murder of Women

Assiwar – Feminist Arab Movement

Masar Instiute for Education

Entema wa Ataa

Galilee Institute

Al Mashghal

AWC – Arab Women in the Center

Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced (ADRID)

The Follow Up Committee of Arab Education Issues

Muntada – The Arab Forum for the Sexuality of Individual and Family

Tishreen – Al-Muthalath

Humanity Crew

CEGAS

Aswat – Palestinian Feminist Center for Sexual and Gender Freedoms

I’lam – Arab Center for Media, Freedom, Development, and Research

Baladna – Arab Youth Association

Al-Zahraa – The Organization for the Advancement of Women

Ma’an – The Forum of Arab Women’s Organizations in the Negev

Intima Wa Amal

Mahpach Taghir