Omar Abu Jariban - Mohammed Dabah, B’Tselem
Omar Abu Jariban. Photo by Mohammed Dabah, B’Tselem
Text size

New evidence surrounding an incident four years ago in which an injured Palestinian man was dumped at the side of the road by Israeli police officers and left to die disproves one of the arguments they used to support their actions. The officers falsely claimed they did not know the identity of the man when in fact they did, and should therefore have been able to release him into the care of his family.

In May 2008 Omar Abu Jariban, a Palestinian who was not authorized to enter Israel, was seriously injured in an accident while riding in a stolen car.

He was prematurely discharged from Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer into the custody of Rehovot police officers - with a urinary catheter still in place, still using adult diapers, in need of further medical care and rehabilitation and appearing confused. When the Israel Prison Service hospital said it had no room for him, officers from the Rehovot station drove him to the West Bank.

They eventually put him down, late at night, at the side of the road near the Ofer military base. His body was discovered two days later. Abu Jariban had died of dehydration.

The police officers insisted, in statements to investigators for separate police and Justice Ministry probes, that they were unable to contact Abu Jariban's family because he intentionally concealed his identity from them. It was only after multiple efforts to identify him and locate his family had failed, they claimed, did they decide to dump him in the middle of nowhere.

In fact, Abu Jariban's name appears on several internal police documents from the time of the incident. Four different documents in the case file on the car theft, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, identity the suspect as "Omar Abu Kariban." The pronunciation of Arabic characters representing "K" and "J" can differ according to dialect.

His name appears on his detention-release authorization as well as in an interview summary, which also gives Abu Jariban's birthplace in Jordan.

But the investigators never asked the detective who conducted the interrogation and entered Abu Jariban's name into the police computer how he knew the man's name or what efforts had been made to locate his family.

In a statement the Israel Police declined comment, saying the case has already been investigated several times and two police officers had been indicted, and adding that because it is the subject of a pending petition in the High Court of Justice the only appropriate venue for addressing the issue is in court.