An Israeli police intelligence officer was indicted this week for beating and injuring a Palestinian detainee. The Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct has urged the police to file disciplinary charges against three policemen who witnessed the beating but did not report it.
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According to the indictment filed by the department, the incident occurred in February, when two policemen searching for suspects in a synagogue break-in arrived at an Ashkelon apartment. Shortly after identifying themselves to the three occupants, one policeman called the Ashkelon police station’s intelligence officer, Yahav Simon, and asked for help.
According to the indictment, Simon arrived with another policeman, and upon entering the apartment, immediately slapped one occupant in the face. He then asked who slept in one of the bedrooms.
When he did not get an answer, he grabbed one occupant, a Palestinian, and dragged him into the bedroom. There he began questioning the Palestinian, who replied that he did not understand Hebrew.
At that point, Simon began beating the Palestinian with an iron bar that was in the bedroom, all the while continuing to question him in Hebrew, the indictment states. The Palestinian kept saying he did not understand, but finally said the items in the bedroom belonged to him. Only then did Simon stop beating him and take him back to the main room.
There, Simon allegedly hit the man in the back with an electric fan, causing him to fall down. Another policeman took the fan away from Simon, who then began kicking the Palestinian where he lay.
Eventually, other policemen came to the apartment, handcuffed the Palestinian and took him to the police station. The man, who needed medical treatment, later complained to the Justice Ministry.
A state comptroller’s report issued in April accused both the Justice Ministry and the police of failing to properly address police brutality, saying that most complaints against policemen were not investigated adequately, and only rarely did police face either criminal or disciplinary charges. It also found that policemen were rarely suspended from the force even if they were indicted, and sometimes not even if they were convicted.
Simon, however, was suspended shortly after the incident occurred.
Attorney Akram Hasuna, who represented the Palestinian when he was first detained, praised the Justice Ministry for filing an indictment in this case.