A video clip obtained by Haaretz shows a police officer handcuffing a detained Arab social activist to his hospital bed, despite Jafar Farah’s leg being in a cast from his toes to above the knee.
Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center for the Rights of Arab Citizens in Israel, was arrested at a demonstration in Haifa two weeks ago. He claims that a police officer kicked him in the leg at the police station after his arrest, shattering his knee. The officer, who has not been identified, was placed on leave this week and was questioned Wednesday by investigators from the Justice Department division that examines claims of police misconduct.
The officers guarding a prisoner in hospital are given discretion over using restraints, but generally they are not used unless the prisoner is judged an escape risk.
Farah says the video was filmed before he was taken back to jail from Haifa’s Bnei Zion Medical Center, and that he was handcuffed to the bed throughout his hospital stay. Farah added that an officer confiscated the cellphone when he realized it was being used to film him. The Justice Ministry department got the video from Farah and returned the phone to its owner.
In a statement, the Israel Police denounced what it called a “ridiculous and transparent” attempt “to turn the tables against the police.”
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“We’re talking about a man who was arrested while behaving violently and disrupting public order in a violent demonstration in which the demonstrators committed vandalism and issued calls in support of terror. Efforts to make headlines don’t change the facts. The Israel Police treats all detainees without bias and acts in accordance with the procedures for restraining detainees when they are in a non-police facility.”
Physicians for Human Rights and Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter of protest this week to the hospital directors, the Health Ministry and the Israel Medical Association.
“In light of information given to us by Mr. Farah and a number of other witnesses who were present at the scene, it appears that during Farah’s treatment there was gross and unjustified police intervention in the hospital procedures that offended Mr. Farah and a number of staff members,” the letter said.
“There is also a real concern that Farah was released from the hospital too soon and late at night, contrary to the professional medical considerations of the staff, as a result of police pressure after he was arrested at a demonstration in downtown Haifa,” the letter said.
The police officer who is suspected of beating Farah after his arrest was questioned again Wednesday by the Justice Ministry department. He insisted that the complaint was false.
The officer’s lawyers, Lior Binyamin and Samy Ilia, said their client “had nothing to hide because he didn’t do anything.” They requested all of the evidentiary material from his investigation, including the grounds for placing him on leave before the completion of the investigation.
The police officer denied using undue force against Farah, but witnesses have described his abuse during and after the arrest of the demonstrators. Farah’s son, Bisan, said the officer picked him up by force and then threw him down. Amar Abu Qandil, one of the detainees, added that after he had commented on the treatment of the demonstrators, the officer threatened him and spat at a group of detainees. Ali Mawasi, who was also detained at the police station, claimed the officers told the detainees, “Today we’ll make a feast of you, we’ll screw you,” and spat at them.