An Israeli security guard is suspected of detaining a Palestinian woman in a Jerusalem checkpoint in order to get her phone number, Israel Police indicated on Sunday.
The alleged incident took place last week at Ras Hamis checkpoint separating East and West Jerusalem, where the man, an employee of the private security firm Modi’in Ezrachi, detained the woman, a law student in East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University.
Each person passing through the Ras Hamis checkpoint, which is equipped with barbed wire on both sides, has to go through two gates standing a few meters apart and that are remotely operated by a guard sitting in an secured room.
According to the woman’s testimony, the security guard asked for the woman’s number, and, upon her refusal, detained her between the two gates for 20 minutes, despite her constant pleading, releasing her only after he had verified that she had given him her real number.
Following the woman’s complaint, Jerusalem’s police department opened an investigation on the matter, following which the security guard was questioned under warning and released under limitation. Police sources indicated that he was suspected of harassment.
Dozens of residents of the woman’s home village of Ras Hamis, upon gaining knowledge of the incident, raided the checkpoint, protesting what they called an abuse of the woman’s honor.
“People were ready to sweep over the checkpoint and destroy it,” said Jamil Sandouka, chairman of the residents’ committee in Shuafat and Ras Hamis.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) claimed that the case did not represent an isolated incident. “The decision to sever several Jerusalem neighborhoods from the rest of the city with a fence continues to exact a heavy toll on the civilian population,” ACRI official Nisreen Alyan said.
“The lack of proper services in these areas means the daily crossing of checkpoints and exposing civilians to the possibility that those operating the checkpoints can take the law into their own hands,” Alyan said.
Modi’in Ezrachi did not provide a comment.
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