Screenshot of B'tselem video in which Border Policeman seen confiscating Palestinian girl's bike.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The border policemen involved in an incident in which one apparently confiscated the bicycle of an eightyear- old Palestinian girl in Hebron will be disciplined, but not criminally charged, the Police Investigations Department announced on Monday The officer was suspended from active duty on August 2 after a video of the July 25 incident went viral on YouTube.
The statement from the Justice Ministry’s PID said the case had been reviewed and that the policemen involved would be disciplined for improper and unprofessional conduct. But “in light of the balance of the circumstances surrounding the event,” they said there was no basis to indict for the criminal violation of abuse of power.
The event was filmed by a volunteer from B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
That video shows the border police officer stopping the girl, Anwar Burkan, on a street near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The site is heavily guarded by security personnel and is a highly sensitive area of the mostly Palestinian city. The pedestrian area in front of the tomb is blocked off to Palestinians, who are directed to use an alternate path behind a concrete barrier and small wire fence.
Still, some Palestinian traffic is allowed and small children can often be seen playing nearby.Border Police confiscate Palestinian girl's bike
In the video, the girl is seen yelling as the policeman approached her bicycle. The officer is shown with his foot on the bike, in an apparent attempt to keep her from taking it. After a few seconds she runs off crying in the direction of another child who is holding a large plastic toy.
Anwar’s father, Mjoub, said the second child was the girl’s brother, but the video shows a youngster with a ponytail who appears to be a girl.
As the policeman is joined by another who walks toward them, the two children run away.
There is a break in the video at that point, after which one policeman is briefly seen with his foot pressing on bushes which by then covered the bike.
The Border Police said it regretted the incident, which it took very seriously and opened an investigation as a result, a spokesman said.
Charges of criminal abuse of power are usually brought against police only in cases when physical or some other significant, lasting harm has been caused to a civilian.
As serious as descriptions made the incident appear, investigators did not think there was concrete harm sufficient to mount a criminal case.
Mjoub Burkan said that Anwar and Ibrahim had been playing outside for about a half hour when the policeman stopped them.
After the incident, Anwar came home in tears and said she was “afraid,” he said, adding that the officers “took the bicycle because the settlers and the army are afraid of all Palestinians.”Tovah Lazaroff and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.