Israeli Army Closes Case Against Soldier Kneeling on Palestinian's Neck

The army claims 60-year-old Khairi Hannoun pushed the IDF officer, who in response used 'reasonable force' when Hannoun resisted arrest

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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An IDF soldier pins Khairi Hanoun to the ground with his knee on his neck, in Shufa.
An IDF soldier pins Khairi Hanoun to the ground with his knee on his neck, in Shufa.Credit: AFP
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

Israel's Military Police said on Wednesday that it will not open an investigation into an officer who was filmed kneeling on the neck of a 60 year old Palestinian protester while arresting him.

The video, released in September, shows the officer kneeling on the neck of Khairi Hannoun, whom he had arrested at a demonstration outside the village of Shufa near Tul Karm. Hannoun then entered his car and the officer was filmed breaking the car window with his rifle and pointing it at the head of another Palestinian.

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The Israeli army said at the time that the demonstration was violent and that the clip was “only partial, biased and doesn’t reflect the disruption of order and the violence toward the military force ahead of the arrest.”

The human rights organization Yesh Din's lawyers representing Hannoun asked the Military Advocate General this month whether an investigation had been opened into the incident.

The IDF first said the event “would continue to be looked into in the coming days,” but on Sunday the Military Advocate General said the officer’s conduct was “part of implementing the power to arrest your client, it did not exceed reasonable (conduct) in the circumstances and doesn’t indicate a suspicion of a criminal offense.”

The army claims Hannoun pushed the officer, who in response used reasonable force when Hannoun resisted arrest.

The Military Advocate General’s office said the smashing of the window was intended to prevent Hannoun from fleeing and that he was welcome to ask the Defense Ministry for compensation “as an exception.”

Khairi Hanoun on the ground in Shufa.Credit: AFP

The demonstration Hannoun had taken part in was held by residents protesting Israel’s confiscation of their land.

“It’s a legitimate, entirely non-violent demonstration,” Hannoun said at the time. “We, a few adults, were walking. We didn’t think the soldiers would attack us. But we were wrong. They attacked us like hooligans. I’m 60, what can I do to an armed soldier? But for the officer there I’m a threat and he attacked me brutally.”

Hannoun mentioned George Floyd, who died last May after a policeman kneeled on his neck in a similar way.

“He kneeled on me just like what happened with that Black American. I felt he was choking me,” he said.

Hannoun was arrested by a Border Police force two weeks after the video of the demonstration was published. The Border Police said at the time that he was “arrested after he was seen taking part in several order disruptions and actively causing provocations, forcing them to take control of him by force.”

In October, the military court in the West Bank convicted Hannoun of incitement and posting symbols of an illegal organization on his Facebook page.

The military judge, Major Kamal Zaharaladin, sentenced him to a month and a day in prison and fined him $306 (1,000 shekels) as part of a plea agreement. The judge said "the essence of the posts does not include a call for violence."

One of the posts Hannoun published had a caption praising shahids (an Arabic word used to describe a martyr) and a picture of Dalal Mughrabi, who was behind the terror attack on the coastal road in the 70s, which led to the death of 35 Israeli citizens.

Another post showed Hannoun holding a sign with the symbol of the Popular Front. The caption denounces the Abraham Accords and calls on the Palestinian Authority to revoke the Oslo Accords.

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