Israeli Policeman Charged With Assault After Caught on Tape Attacking Palestinian Driver

Moshe Cohen apologized for the incident, but investigators say disciplinary action alone would not be sufficient.

Police officer caught on video attacking Palestinian truck driver.
Screenshot/Twitter

The policeman who had been caught on tape beating a Palestinian truck driver in East Jerusalem last week, was charged with assault and breach of trust on Thursday.

The Justice Ministry's police investigation unit has also recommended disciplinary proceedings against another policeman who was at the scene and allegedly did nothing to stop Cohen, and also did not report the incident. The Israel Police will also look into the conduct of two other policemen who are thought to have passed by the scene and also failed to report the matter.

Moshe Cohen, who serves in the Yasam special police patrol unit, confessed and apologized for slapping, head-butting, kneeing and kicking the driver, Mazen Shweiki. However, investigators said an apology or disciplinary action would not be sufficient, and sought to charge him instead.

According to the indictment, Cohen left his private car in a parking lot near his office in East Jerusalem’s Wadi al-Joz neighborhood last Tuesday before starting his shift. He returned to the car after the shift to discover that the vehicle had been damaged.

Cohen found that the damage had been caused by a truck, noted its license plate and used the police database to find out who was the owner. Two days later, he saw the truck parked near his office and from his window spotted someone, later identified as Shweiki, getting into the vehicle and starting the engine. Cohen then left his office and approached Shweiki, who got out of the truck.

Cohen then began swearing at the driver, the indictment states, complaining that he had not left a note acknowledging the damage and providing his contact details. Shweiki reportedly insisted that he left a note. A heated argument ensued, in which Shweiki reportedly told Cohen he would “pay” for his conduct. The assault captured on video ensued.

Shwiki told Haaretz that he has been unable to work since the incident. "He painfully attacked and humiliated me," he said. "It could be that I damaged his vehicle – it happens and I know there are cameras in the area, I didn’t run away."

"I am a truck driver, not a criminal," he added. "There is nothing that justifies his behavior. I was just lucky that someone filmed the incident so that everyone can see what happened. I hope the police and the law enforcement agencies will deal with him.”