A protest in Haifa on May 20, 2018, against Israeli actions on the Gaza border and alleged police brutality..
(photo credit: JOINT LIST)
The police officer accused of breaking the knee of Arab-Israeli activist Jafar Farah after arresting him during a protest in Haifa last week has been suspended from his unit for several days while the Police Investigation Unit looks into the incident, the Israel Police said on Wednesday.
Responding to reports that the officer had been expelled, the statement said, “No disciplinary action has been taken against him. We are talking about a suspension of a few days only as part of the proper conduct of an investigation.”
Farah, the director of the Haifa- based Mossawa Center-The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, alleges the police officer broke his knee by kicking him after he was arrested and was being held in custody, following a protest on Friday against Israel’s recent actions on the Gaza border. The officer has denied the accusations.
Media reported that the officer has a history of making racist statements against Arabs, and have posted screenshots that allegedly came from his Facebook page. A post calling to boycott businesses of Arab residents of Acre, amid a wave of Palestinian terrorism in 2015, was attributed to the officer, while another says: “To all those kind souls who are supporting the Acre market – here is a slap in the face, they are all terrorists who use your money for violence, crime and terror and laugh at you behind your backs.”
Attorney Fady Khoury, from Adalah- The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit on Wednesday that included witness accounts from other protesters who accused the police of violence during and after the demonstration.
According to the Adalah letter, from the beginning of the protest – which it said included only chanting and no unlawful activity by the participants – “The police decided to disperse the participants with great violence... using indiscriminate physical violence.” This violence, Khoury said, continued when protesters were arrested and “suffered severe violence on their way to and inside the police station.”
According to one of the complainants, “Officer L,” the officer under investigation, told detainees, “Today we will f**k you,” spit on them and called them “sons of whores.”
According to one account, police were present throughout Farah’s time in the hospital and, according to hospital staff, verbally abused them using derogatory references to their Arab and Muslim identities.
The letter said one officer told a nurse who was wearing a headscarf, “It’s obvious that you incite everyone.”
Farah’s son Bisan also said the police did not take him for immediate medical attention after the police car he and two other detainees were in collided with another vehicle.
Bisan said he sustained a blow which caused him to bleed from above his left eye and he was unable to see. The letter said Bisan was arrested while filming the protest and the police’s actions during it. During his arrest, it said, an officer allegedly “grabbed him violently, tore his shirt and threatened to break his hand if he didn’t put it behind his back.”
Bisan said he bled for two hours before being taken to hospital. Earlier, at the police station, he said, he was attacked by Officer L, who “lifted him up and down aggressively.”
Farah said the officer kicked him and broke his knee, after he found his son sitting on the floor in his blood, and asked, “Who gave you the right to treat my son this way?” After detailing numerous complaints of violence and verbal abuse, Khoury wrote: “In light of what is written, you are requested to open an immediate criminal investigation into the events of the protest described above and the detentions that were carried out there, and to act to bring to trial, without delay, the responsible police officers.”
There were 21 protesters arrested at the demonstration, two of them minors who were released before the others. Seven of the demonstrators required medical attention.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich addressed the subject at a Friends of Tel Aviv University event on Wednesday night, saying, “Whoever doesn’t stand the test of self control will find themselves outside of the police force. Most of the good people, do not pass the test of self control. So one has to be careful. To be a policeman requires self control.”
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