After Being Filmed Beaten, East Jerusalem Residents File Complaint Over Police Abuse

‘I told the policeman I couldn’t breathe from the gas,’ stated the resident. ‘He sprayed me again and said, 'Now you’ll feel better''

Ahmed Masri (L) and his uncle Mohammed Abu Hummus.
Mohammed Abu Hummus

Two East Jerusalem Palestinians on Sunday filed complaints to the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct, saying policemen beat them a little over a week earlier.

The Jerusalem District Court rejected the police’s request to extend the remand of one of them, Mohammed Abu Hummus, who was arrested on suspicion of attacking police officers, although they were filmed beating him. Abu Hummus is a leading activist in Isawiyah, where tension with police has been high for months. His nephew, Ahmed Masri, who they say was also assaulted, told Haaretz that policemen abused him, stole money from him and tried to incriminate him with possession of a weapon.

Riot police assaulted Abu Hummus and Masri on November 9. Abu Hummus, who is disabled and uses crutches, was hospitalized at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem after the police hit him and threw him to the ground. On Thursday, he was arrested in connection with the incident on suspicion of several offenses involving assaulting police officers.

Video of police confrontation with Mohammed Abu Hummus.

On Friday, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Sharon Lary-Bavly denied a police request extending Abu Hummus’ detention by seven days and ordered him released on bail. When the police appealed that decision, Judge Mordechay Caduri criticized the police.

In a video that Free Jerusalem activists filmed, the police are seen beating Abu Hummus and Masri. Abu Hummus and Masri filed a complaint to the Justice Ministry department through the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “He (the policeman) told me, ‘I will park where I want,’” Masri told Haaretz. “I told him, ‘We are still not in a military zone.’ He whispered to me, ‘I’ll park wherever I fucking want,’” and cursed Masri’s mother.

“I told him, ‘Take back what you said,’ and then he punched me while saying ‘Don’t raise your hand at me’ – even though I hadn’t even raised my hand.’”

Masri, 38, said they handcuffed him and kept punching him. “I lost consciousness. I threw up,” he recalled. “I started to recover. They sprayed me with pepper spray and I fell again. I couldn’t stand anymore.” He said they put him in a police van at that point, but the story didn’t end there.

“They abused me within the van, forced me down and cursed me,” he said. “I asked one of the policemen named Erza for treatment. I told him, ‘I’m in pain and need treatment. I can’t breathe from the gas.’ At that point, he pulled out a cannister, gave me a short spray, and told me, ‘Now you’ll feel better.’ Afterward, he handcuffed me from behind very tightly, so the blood wouldn’t flow.”

Masri was put in an ambulance, which took him to the hospital. He said the policeman Ezra ordered the policeman who accompanied him not to uncuff him. “I asked the policeman to loosen the handcuffs a little so the blood would flow. He told me, ‘I have an order not to open them.’ I asked the Magen David Adom medic who was in the ambulance to check my hands. He looked and said, ‘Your hands are blue.’ I told him, ‘Do something, help me,’ but he said, ‘I can’t help you because I am only a medic.’”

Masri said that only when the got to Hadassah Ein Karem that one of the policemen agreed to loosen the handcuffs a little. He was interrogated shortly and released after he agreed to five days of house arrest. “I was in pain and broken, I was all swollen,” he said. “I said I will at least see my children and I agreed, even though it was clear they didn’t have anything against me.” Masri said that his wallet was returned to him, but it was missing 2,100 shekels ($600).

Two days after the incident, while Masri was under house arrest, members of the police’s special patrol unit, Yasam, came to his home. His brother, Sharaf, said he saw the policemen entering the stairwell with a photographer, where they put down some object. After they left, he said he found there three used fireworks. The fireworks are considered weapons that Palestinians use against policemen. Masri and ACRI assert that the policemen planted the fireworks to incriminate him, and to prevent him from complaining about police violence to the Justice Ministry. The police sent to Haaretz a video in which the policemen allegedly find the fireworks.

The police commented: “We regret that the newspaper continues its one-sided coverage of the police, sometimes relying on fantastical claims. Regarding Ahmed Masri, in total opposition to what is claimed, the policemen arrived at the building (as can be seen in the film), after it was identified as one of the buildings from which fireworks were thrown at them and found underneath the staircase some fireworks that seemed to be hidden there, after they were used against the police.”

The police added: “Regarding Mohammed Abu Hummus, contrary to what is claimed, the suspect was brought by the police to the investigation room, when he fell flat on his face and complained of pains. The police ordered an ambulance for him, which took him to the hospital, where he underwent some tests, and he was released in the end fit for detention. The police are vigilant about the rights of investigation subjects, and continues to act professionally to arrive at the truth.”