Top police official allegedly ignored bleeding man in chance encounter

Asst.-Ch. Jamal Hacrush, head of the police's Saif Branch, was seen in a video stepping over a dying man without offering help and has been put on leave, in yet another scandal linked to the police.

Asst.-Ch. Jamal Hakrush attends the Knesset's Public Security Committee meeting in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Asst.-Ch. Jamal Hakrush attends the Knesset's Public Security Committee meeting in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Israel Police Asst.-Ch. Jamal Hacrush ignored the body of a man who was mortally injured at a scene he happened upon, according to new footage obtained by Haaretz.

Hacrush was present at a metal factory in the northern town of Kafr Kanna on September 12, 2020, when a man was stabbed nearby. A video shows Hacrush stepping over the man’s body sprawled on a staircase, stumbling slightly and continuing on without offering treatment or attempting to take control of the situation.

The incident began while Hacrush was sitting in an office on the second floor of the factory, called Barzel Kafr Kanna (Kanna Iron), in order to complete a personal purchase. The office had transparent glass walls. Hacrush, himself a resident of Kafr Kanna, was not in uniform, the video shows.

The factory’s owners, members of the Amare family, had been embroiled in a land dispute. Company CEO Gazzi Amare and his uncle Fadi Amare were present on the second floor as well, along with a lawyer who came to obtain their signatures for documents related to the disputed land, according to Haaretz.

The procedure turned violent. Fadi headbutted Gazzi, who responded by biting Fadi’s nose. Eventually, Fadi stabbed Gazzi in the chest with a knife he grabbed from the factory kitchen. Gazzi stumbled toward the nearby staircase and collapsed. Fadi, in the meantime, barricaded himself in the kitchen. Family members and staff tried to administer first aid and the lawyer called the police.

Then, just six minutes after entering the factory, Hacrush is seen going down the staircase, stumbling slightly over the palpitating body and continuing on.

Hacrush at the time was the head of the Israel Police branch whose goal was to improve police services for the Israeli-Arab community. In August 2021, he was appointed head of the new Saif Branch, which was established to fight and prevent crime in this community. He is the first Muslim Arab-Israeli to reach the rank of assistant-chief. His own Kafr Kanna home was the target of a drive-by shooting in September 2021.

Fadi eventually surrendered himself to police forces who arrived at the scene. At a certain point, Hacrush returned to the crime scene and a confused policeman can be heard exclaiming “He was here!” and adding, “He witnessed the incident from what I understand, he came to pay for something, to finalize the transaction.” An additional policeman is then heard saying “You have Hacrush here” and “He was also involved.” Hacrush himself can be heard asking in Arabic, “What’s up?”

IT WAS Fadi Amare who pestered the police to question Hacrush, according to testimony obtained by Haaretz. He testified that Hacrush had seen everything, that he had even asked Hacrush to get involved, and that Hacrush had attempted to break up the fight.

In Hacrush’s testimony to police, he merely said he heard Fadi shouting and then saw that he had shut himself in the kitchen. He also said he saw the injured man bleeding from his chest and saw two people evacuating him, Haaretz reported. The video clearly shows that no one was in the process of evacuation.

However, Hacrush said in interviews with the three major news channels that he acted exactly as he should have, since he left the building in order to close off the area and then alerted the police.

He also said in closed conversations that he was being singled out for being Arab, N12 added.

Haaretz obtained the information from the Nazareth District Court despite the State Attorney’s Office’s opposition, even though the trial was not held behind closed doors. Hacrush was not called to testify in the trial, which is ongoing.

“This is a murder incident that took place in September last year in Kafr Kanna,” the police spokesperson responded when the news broke on Monday. “Upon completion of the investigation, a serious indictment was filed against the defendant for murder. Needless to say, the trial is still ongoing, and Asst.-Ch. Hachrush is a prosecution witness in the case. In light of this and due to the circumstances, we are unable to address the allegations raised in your query,” the spokesperson said.

Later on Monday, however, the Israel Police announced that Commissioner Yaakov (Kobi) Shabtai had put Hacrush on leave, following Hacrush’s request.

Shabtai also appointed Asst.-Ch. (ret.) Ahron Aksul to investigate the issue.

Hacrush’s involvement in the incident was known to top police brass, including to then fill-in commissioner Motti Cohen. It was also known to the State Attorney’s Office, Haaretz reported. Hacrush did not face any disciplinary measures and Shabtai was not aware of it.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev responded to the affair.

“The incident allegedly shows significant failures in the conduct of Asst.-Ch. Hachrush, which raises questions both at the functional and value level,” Bar Lev wrote in a letter to Shabtai.

“I expect to receive your view of the incident, clarification of the details of the incident as they are known to you, and an update on any measures taken towards the officer in response to the incident,” he wrote.

The revelation came on the heels of last week’s NSO Group scandal, in which the police were accused of using the controversial Pegasus attacking software to gain access to citizens’ cellphones without receiving proper approval.