Haifa District Court has ordered the release of protesters detained during Friday’s pro-Gaza protest in Haifa. Nineteen people were held in police custody following their arrests at the peaceful protest, which was organised in solidarity with the population of Gaza.
According to the Mossawa Center, The Advocacy Centre for Palestinian Citizens in Israel, all nineteen protesters were released this morning. Among those freed is the CEO of the Mossawa Center, Jafar Farah, whose ordeal has been particularly acute: he was hospitalised after his arrest, suffering from a broken knee- an injury which he sustained in prison. His son has commented that the family were prevented from visiting his hospital room and were barred from giving him a device to help with his breathing problems.
Jafar Farah has spoken out over the violent police crackdown on Friday’s protests, describing this act of oppression as ‘inconceivable’ and anti-democratic. Video footage, taken by onlookers in Natanzon Street last Friday evening, verifies his words. The Israeli Justice Ministry is set to investigate the police’s violent dispersion tactics.
The Israeli police still maintain that all the arrests were lawful and in accordance with official procedures, and initially kept seven protesters under detention pending their appeal of the Court’s decision.
Friday’s events have sparked varying responses from politicians in Israel. Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List in the Knesset, has lambasted the “brutal” treatment of civilians by riot police. On the other hand, Avigdor Liberman slandered Odeh and his associates, impugning their denouncement of the police; he belligerently labelled them ‘terrorists’, worthy of prison and not the Knesset.