A police officer and volunteer were suspended until further notice by the Tel Aviv police on Monday, when a video emerged of them assaulting an IDF soldier in uniform on a Holon street a day earlier.
In the video, the soldier can be seen walking a bike on a residential street the police had blocked off because of a suspicious package. The soldier tries to keep walking and is pushed back once, and then a second time before the officer knees him, punches him in the face and puts his hands around his neck momentarily. The soldier appears to throw a punch at the officer after he was struck.
The officer and volunteer then throw him to the ground in a vacant lot and continue to push him as he gets to his feet and refuses to stay down. At the end of the video, after more officers come and break up the fracas, the soldier can be seen picking up a rock and rearing back as if to throw it at the officer, who appears to have his hand on his sidearm. He drops the rock and the video cuts out.
No audio can be heard in the recording, which a Facebook user who uploaded the video said was made by a surveillance camera at the apartment building next to the lot.
“On the surface, even though it has not been extensively examined, the recording appears to show unacceptable behavior that strays from the behavioral norms we require in the organization. The officers have been suspended and the evidence was immediately passed to the department for investigation by the police. A decision on the future service of the officers will be made depending on the department’s findings,” Tel Aviv police said in a statement Monday.
The soldier, Damas Pakedeh, who was arrested and released, told Channel 2 he was accused of attacking the officer. He said he believed the incident was racially motivated and that if there had not been video footage he was sure he would have remained in custody and no one would have believed him.
After the video went public, Likud MK Avraham Naguise, who spoke to the soldier Monday morning after he was released from custody, called on National Police Chief Yohanan Danino to place the police officer and volunteer on trial.
Naguise said the police behavior showed “a gross violation of the basic law of respecting others and their liberty by those who are supposed to protect us.”
The soldier is an Israeli of Ethiopian descent. In recent months, there have been a series of reports in the Israeli press about alleged acts of police brutality against Ethiopian Israelis, with many in the community saying they are unfairly targeted and treated more harshly than other citizens.