Israel's Military Police have launched an investigation into the case of a Palestinian who was beaten while under arrest, after a security camera at a nearby settlement caught the beating on tape.
Soldiers arrested the Palestinian, Dar Sa’ad, for allegedly throwing stones at them during a violent demonstration in the village of Silwad on April 26.
A security camera at the settlement of Ofra shows that the soldiers then punched and kicked Sa'ad several times while he was lying on the ground. But it’s not clear how long the beating went on because after a few seconds the camera was turned to face in another direction.
An officer familiar with the incident said that several Palestinians threw stones at soldiers from the Kfir Brigade and the Border Police during that incident. But that doesn’t justify how Sa’ad was treated after being arrested, the officer continued: The beating “never should have happened.”
When Sa’ad was eventually taken to a police station, he denied throwing stones and told the police that the soldiers had beaten him after his arrest. But the police did nothing about his complaint. He was charged with throwing stones 10 days later.
The B’Tselem human rights group obtained a copy of the security footage and passed it on to the Military Advocate General, which ordered an investigation.
The Kfir Brigade’s commander, Col. Udi Ben-Moha, had intended to put the soldiers on disciplinary trial, but held off after learning that a criminal investigation had been opened. Nevertheless, it seems likely that he will oust them from their positions in the brigade.
Last week, after the footage was screened at Sa’ad’s trial, in a military court, the charge against him was reduced in a plea bargain, from stone-throwing to participating in an illegal demonstration.
“This is a fairly representative example of the quality of evidence collected by the Judea and Samaria [District] Police,” said Sa’ad’s attorney, Nery Ramati.
“It’s enough for it to have testimony from one policeman with internal contradictions to decide the investigation is over, without checking the alibi and without checking the evidence. This also says something about the military prosecution, which is willing to accept such a case. It’s true that he was at an unlicensed demonstration … But for that, you shouldn’t sit in jail.”
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman said the military prosecution has ordered an investigation and will review the findings after it is concluded. Meanwhile, the possibility of additional disciplinary measures against the soldiers is being considered, the statement added.