Arab Police Volunteer Says Humiliated by Senior Israeli Officers

Volunteer, Yosef Balal, tells Haaretz his story after receiving no answer to letters he wrote to the police commissioner and public security minister, describing the October 2012 incident.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

A long-time Arab volunteer with the Israel Police says he was humiliated at the scene of a police operation to round up illegal residents. When the volunteer, Yousef Balal, 26, received no answer to his letters to the police commissioner and public security minister, in which he described the October 2012 incident, he told his story to Haaretz.

Balal, a native of Shfaram who now lives in Moshav Nes Harim near Jerusalem, has been a volunteer with the police for a few years now in various capacities, and currently works with the police in the inland area southeast of Tel Aviv. Because of his fluent Arabic, he was selected as one of the volunteers on an operation to locate Arabs residing illegally in Israel. Balal helped plan the operation by gathering intelligence on places where illegal residents hide out.

On October 10, the police involved in the operation were called together for a briefing. Balal was late for the briefing because of roadblocks, and his commanders told him to head straight for the pick-up point at the end of the operation and wait there, which he did, arriving late at night. The operation's forces also arrived at the pick-up point around that time. With them were 12 illegal residents they had arrested on information Balal had provided, as well as area Border Police commanders. Among the personnel at the scene was Nissim Elimelech, security coordinator for Moshav Kfar Hanagid, and his cousin Yosef Elimelech, a volunteer Border Police commander, Balal said.

According to the volunteer, Nissim Elimelech looked at him and asked the Border Police commander: "Who called this Arab to come?" The commanders thought Nissim Elimelech might be referring to the illegal residents but Elimelech clarified: "I mean him - Yusuf Abu-Balal." Balal has started the process of conversion to Judaism, during which he changed his name from Yusuf to Yosef.

The commanders explained that Balal was a veteran volunteer and part of the team. "Why do you call him Yosef; he's an Arab and his name is Yusuf Abu-Balal," Nissim Elimelech said to one of the commanders, according to Balal. Balal said Yosef Elimelech then said: "Maybe he changed his name or made it a Hebrew name and calls himself Yosef Balal, but that doesn't change him." Balal said a loud argument then started between the commanders and the volunteers from the Elimelech family.

"The illegals, who knew I was an Arab, were sitting there and laughing that this was how they were humiliating me, a volunteer in the police," said Balal.

Nissim Elimelech, who was informally suspended from operational duty for three months following Balal's complaints, said in response: "The complaints were checked, I insisted and continue to insist that I didn't say those things, and I have returned to work as usual, which tells it all."

Police car.Credit: Tess Scheflan / Jini

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