Jerusalem police used electric taser guns on protesters for the first time in Israel Friday, according to leftist activists. The activists accused police of using excessive violence and of allowing settlers to abuse them after they were detained.
On Friday, the weekly demonstration held by the Solidarity Movement in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, was moved to the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. There, demonstrators protested the inauguration of Phase B of the settlement of the Maaleh Zeitim neighborhood. The inauguration last week was attended by ministers and the speaker of the Knesset.
Friday's protest was attended by 150 activists, who picketed the gate of the settlement compound's garage. Video footage taken by the activists shows that violence began after rightist activists taunted the protesters. One of them, Aryeh King, snatched a flag from a female protester. This sparked an argument between the protesters and police, which ended in the arrest of two protesters.
"The officer told me to stop 'that look,'" David Haled, one of the two arrested, told Haaretz. "I said, 'Which look?' He said, 'Stop that look. I'm arresting you because of the look.' They handcuffed me and got me into the garage."
Following the arrest, protesters tried blocking the garage gate, at which point policemen began using taser guns, non-lethal weapons first introduced to the police six months ago. Tasers deliver an electric shock that causes fierce pain in the targeted area. They are used by police forces across the world to detain unarmed individuals. The taser remains a controversial weapon, as it has been known to cause serious injury and even death.
"They electrocuted me after they already had me pinned down on the floor," said another demonstrator, Lior Ben Eliyahu. "It was very painful and caused a burn."
"I heard one policeman tell another, let him have it a little," said protester Noah Beninga. "He put the thing to the lower part of my leg. It lasted for four or five seconds. I felt I was being electrocuted. All my muscles were jumping. I was left with blisters."
The six arrested protesters told Haaretz that they were exposed to abuse by the settlers while they were held in the garage. All six were released several hours later, and Solidarity said it intends to file complaints to the attorney general and the Justice Ministry's department requesting an investigation of police officers.
Jerusalem police said in a statement that the protesters tried to get into the neighborhood. They then blocked the entrance, police said, and were forcibly dispersed. According to police, the taser was only used after a protester attacked a police officer.
Aryeh King said in response that "a group of miscreants trespassed on private property, blocked a road and held an illegal demonstration."
"The ones with the flag were trespassing on private property without permission," he said. King denied that the detainees faced any abuse following their arrest.
"I personally offered and gave cold water to those who were detained," he said.