AN ISRAELI police officer physically assaulted and injured several Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz on Thursday morning, a video filmed by a witness shows.
In the video, a plainclothes police officer verbally abuses a Palestinian truck driver – 50-year-old Mazen Rafaat Shweiki – after the latter allegedly hit the officer’s car. Over the course of the nearly two-minute-long video, the officer proceeds to headbutt, slap, punch, kick, and knee Shweiki in the lower abdomen.
Shweiki said: ‘I was heading to work in my truck, which was parked in the Ministry of Interior’s parking lot in Wadi Joz as usual this morning, when I was surprised by an Israeli special force officer who headed towards me and asked me: “Why did you hit my car?”
‘I told him that I had hit his car on Tuesday and that I had tried to find out who the owner of the car was to help repair it, but that I hadn’t been able to find him.’ Shweiki said that he sustained fractured ribs following the assault.
Ahmad al-Tawil, a 26 year-old from Jerusalem who witnessed the scene, said that Shweiki was starting up his vehicle when the Israeli officer went up to the truck driver and started berating him. Al-Tawil said that he tried to intervene once the officer began assaulting Shweiki, only for the Israeli officer to hit him several times in the head and stomach, injuring him.
The video then goes on to show at least two other Israeli police officers arriving at the scene, before the first officer violently kicks Shweiki in the back. Al-Tawil said that three Israeli special forces officers arrived at the scene at the time when the video cut off, and assaulted Palestinian men present at the scene, pulling their guns on them while the first Israeli officer went on to assault Shweiki.
Shweiki confirmed that the police officers who arrived later on the scene also assaulted him and the other Palestinians who had tried to defuse the situation. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed in a statement that the video showed ‘dangerous and unordinary individual behaviour’ that did not reflect the usual conduct of Israeli police forces.
Al-Samri said that the first police officer was immediately suspended from his duties pending an internal police investigation. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said on Thursday: ‘This is the behaviour of the mafia and gangs, and we will prosecute (the officer) to make him pay for his savage and sadistic violence.’
Tibi went on to call for the immediate detention of all the other officers who were on the scene and assisted in carrying out the assault. Despite al-Samri’s statement, Palestinians have long claimed that Israeli forces abuse their position of power to verbally and physically humiliate and assault Palestinians on a regular basis.
Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have reported numerous cases of Israeli forces physically assaulting Palestinians in the city, including security guards at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
In August, Israeli forces assaulted 11 Palestinians in two incidents in the Old City of East Jerusalem.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld denied knowledge of the incidents and claimed that: ‘Israeli police don”t attack Palestinians.’ Israeli authorities have been cracking down on Palestinian youths in recent years, while Israeli forces have often detained Palestinian youths without any evidence of wrongdoing, assaulting them in the process.
• Israeli forces raided and sacked two Palestinian printshops in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem at dawn on Thursday and confiscated equipment. Ali Abu Saleh, the owner of the two printshops, said that large numbers of Israeli troops raided his home in the Shweika neighbourhood and demanded that he let them access his stores.
Abu Saleh said that Israeli soldiers searched his shop in the Shweika area, and confiscated equipment, printed materials, and destroyed security camera footage. Israeli forces also raided Abu Saleh’s other printshop in central Tulkarem, breaking the front door and also confiscating equipment and materials.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that Israeli forces had raided the shops because they printed ‘inciting material’. However, Abu Saleh rejected the army’s claims, calling them baseless, adding that 20 people were out of work following the raids. Israeli forces had also raided another Tulkarem printshop earlier this month.
Israeli forces have previously targeted printshops where posters commemorating Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were made. Since the beginning of the year, two Palestinians from Tulkarem were killed after being shot by Israeli forces for allegedly attempting to commit attacks. In the past year, Israel has targeted Palestinian media institutions and civilians, including activists and journalists.
• The Israeli Navy detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, Palestinian security forces said. Gaza naval police said that Israeli forces detained Khader al-Saadi and Rajab Abu Mayala, both residents of the al-Shati refugee camp, while they were sailing three nautical miles from the shore of Gaza City.
Gaza police added that Israeli forces also confiscated the fishermen’s boats and equipment. The Israeli army regularly opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they approach Israel’s unilaterally declared ‘buffer zone,’ which lies on both the land and sea sides of Gaza.
This, along with instances of detentions of fishermen, has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sector of Gaza. Gazan fishermen have suffered from the near decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip, which limits their incursions to just six nautical miles into the sea in accordance with the ceasefire agreement signed with Palestinian factions in 2014.
• Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday night for allegedly being in possession of a knife. An Israeli army spokesperson claimed that a ‘suspect with a knife’ approached an Israeli checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of Hebron.
Eyewitnesses have also said in a number of cases that Israeli security forces planted knives on Palestinians to claim that they were acting in self-defence during a stabbing attack – most recently in a contested case earlier this month in Hebron.