Police truck comes under barrage of rocks in Rahat, January 18 .
(photo credit: MAARIV)
The Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department on Saturday opened a probe into police actions in the Beduin city of Rahat, after an officer allegedly beat a suspect while he was in custody.
A video of the event aired on Channel 2 appears to show the suspect being held by four other officers when a fifth, dressed in plainclothes, suddenly hits him.
The police spokesman said the man was not handcuffed and was resisting arrest.
The incident occurred on Friday after police pulled a car over for inspection and discovered that the driver did not have a valid driver’s license.
According to the police, the driver attempted to flee and was eventually pulled over, after which the driver and his two passengers allegedly attacked the officers with clubs and rocks, and then called for assistance from local residents.
Dozens of residents then joined the three. Police say the residents attacked them, after which they called for backup. Two officers were injured. Police arrested the driver and another local resident of the area.
The suspects deny this version of the events.
The driver says that after his arrest, the policemen beat him with a gun and wounded him while he was in the police car.
Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan tweeted Saturday night that it is not possible to determine whether the police acted violently until an investigation is conducted.
“The police are dealing with offenders, sometimes violent [ones]... sometimes there is no way to deal with them without the use of force, in accordance with the authority granted to the police by law,” he wrote. “There is no justification for the use of force by a policeman where force is not required – and a violent officer will not be forgiven. Some of the videos of the event in Rahat require an investigation by the Police Investigations Department, and it will quickly hold an inquiry into it.”
The driver was brought for a remand extension on Saturday.
On Saturday evening, hundreds of Rahat residents protested the police’s handling of the incident.
According to Channel 2 News, one of the policemen due to be investigated was involved in a separate violent incident in Rahat a month ago, for which he is already under investigation.
This is the second time in two weeks that the Police Investigations Department has launched an inquiry into police violence. It is also investigating alleged police brutality at a protest in Haifa on May 18.