Border police - Nir Kafri
Border policemen in Jerusalem. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Three Israeli border policemen were arrested on Wednesday over suspicions that they had systematically accosted Palestinian workers in Jerusalem and stole their money.

In a court hearing discussing their remand on Thursday, representative of Israel Police's Internal Affairs Division Shalom Amar, said that the three suspects, Uziel Hanun, Osama al-Sahly, Reuven Dhokerker, were in the habit of "targeting working-class people, workers suspected of illegally entering Israel."

The policemen, after leaving their bases without permission, allegedly, "using threats, escorted the [Palestinians] into alleys near Damascus Gate in the Old City."

"Those who didn't have money were beaten and sent home, those who did were also beaten, and their money stolen," Amar added.

In one case, according to police representatives, a resident of the Palestinian city of Ramallah drove to Jerusalem and from there to Ashdod, where he earned NIS 400 in an odd job.

When he returned to Jerusalem, the suspects forced him into an alley and took his money. After hitting him, the Border Police officers allegedly told him: "Turn around, get out of here and don't look back."

According to Amar, the man had then to ask for money in order to return to his home in Ramallah.

Israel Police's Internal Affairs Division launched an undercover investigation of the reported robberies following information received by the department, managing to reach two victims and with knowledge of four cases.

However, police officials believe the robberies were systematic, and represented a "severe affair."

All three suspects were arrested Wednesday night by the Internal Affairs Division after being caught "in the act."

The court remanded the three by four days on Thursday. In his ruling, judge Dov Pollock said that he was conceived there was "reasonable suspicions regarding theft, but at this point I'm not sure that in all cases armed robbery took place.

The suspects' attorneys said that the cases in question, at most, involved theft and not armed robbery, claiming that some of the alleged victims said they hadn't noticed any money was missing until they were later searched by police.

An attorney representing one of the suspects said the court "determined that at least in one case it was not armed robbery. Any claim that links them with armed robbery is not a result of the body of evidence."