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Video shows Israeli police officer violently assaulting Palestinians in East Jerusalem

March 23, 2017 11:42 A.M. (Updated: March 25, 2017 1:27 P.M.)
A screenshot of a video showing an Israeli police officer physically assaulting a Palestinian in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz.
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli police officer physically assaulted and injured several Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz on Thursday morning, a video filmed by a witness showed.

The video shows a plainclothes police officer aggressively verbally confronting a Palestinian truck driver -- later identified as 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 the Shweiki in the lower abdomen.

“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?’” Shweiki recounted.

“I told him that I had hit his car on Tuesday and that I had tried to find out who the owner was of the car to help repair it, but that I hadn’t been able to find him,” he said, adding that the officer then started cursing at him.

Shweiki told Ma’an that he sustained fractured ribs following the assault.

Ahmad al-Tawil, a 26 year-old Jerusalemite who witnessed the scene, told Ma’an that Shweiki was starting up his vehicle when the Israeli officer, dressed in civilian clothing with a gun on his belt, 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 al-Tawil in the eye.

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 as he attempted to enter his vehicle.

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 behavior” 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.

“This is the behavior of mafia and gangs, and we will prosecute (the officer) to make him pay for his savage and sadist violence,” Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said on Thursday.

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.

Tibi said that increasing attacks against Palestinians by Israeli police officers were the result of “the systematic incitement against everything that is Arab” -- using the Israeli term to refer to Palestinians.

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 reportedly assaulted 11 Palestinians in two separate incidents in the Old City of East Jerusalem.

When contacted by Ma’an at the time, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld denied knowledge of the incidents and rejected the use of the word 'attacks,' telling Ma'an that "Israeli police don't attack Palestinians."

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem routinely report mistreatment by Israeli forces, with Israeli authorities cracking down on Palestinian youths in recent years, while Palestinians have often accused Israeli forces of detaining Palestinian youths without any evidence of wrongdoing, and assaulting them in the process.
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