Cop Who Beat Arab Employee in Tel Aviv to Face Disciplinary Hearing

Investigators view demand to see worker’s ID, which sparked incident, as ethnic profiling.

A screenshot from a surveillance camera video showing police beating an Arab employee outside a Tel Aviv supermarket, May 22, 2016.
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The Justice Ministry’s police investigations unit will hold a disciplinary hearing for policeman Ben Edri, who assaulted an Arab employee of the Super Yuda supermarket on Tel Aviv’s Ibn Gvirol Street in 2015.

The charges against the policeman will be excessive use of force and unbecoming conduct towards the supermarket employee.

The conduct of four other policemen involved in that incident will be examined by the police’s disciplinary unit. The police will also investigate the behavior of policemen at the police station, who are suspected of provoking the plaintiff.

Investigation of the incident showed that the plaintiff, an employee of Super Yuda, was talking on his cell phone in Arabic, which raised the suspicions of Edri and a policewoman at the scene. The two, who were not in uniform at the time, asked the plaintiff to identify himself. He refused, asking them to show their IDs to prove they were policemen. He insisted that a policeman in uniform arrive on the scene.

During this exchange the store manager came out and told the policemen that the plaintiff was one of his employees. He invited them inside to save the plaintiff from embarrassment in front of people gathered there. The policemen refused to do so.

Other members of the policemen’s team arrived, as policemen, supermarket employees and passersby gathered around. The atmosphere led to mutual shoving and the policemen tried to overpower the plaintiff. In the course of the struggle, the five policemen used force to arrest the plaintiff, the investigation unit contends. At some point, while he was held from behind, the plaintiff grabbed the neck of one policeman and started to choke him. The other policemen then brought the plaintiff to the ground.

Analysis of the incident indicated that this was a case of ethnic profiling committed by the main suspect, on the basis of which the plaintiff, an Israeli Arab, was asked to identify himself. He responded with assertiveness, refusing to comply out of a sense that he was being treated unjustly.

The investigations unit determined that the incident was not handled in a professional manner and led to unnecessary escalation on the part of the policemen.

The decision to hold a disciplinary hearing rather than a criminal trial was taken because the incident took place at a time when tensions were high in the country, with frequent stabbings of Jews by Palestinians taking place.

Edri will be subject to a disciplinary hearing for conduct unbecoming a police officer and for unreasonable use of force. The plaintiff’s claims that he was provoked verbally by policemen while he was questioned at a police station, in a manner that does not cross the threshold of criminality, will be investigated by the police.