Israeli police photographed two Israelis suspected of stealing a gun from an IDF soldier in a humiliating posture blindfolded and kneeling on the ground. The photos were then widely circulated on social media.
The suspects were taken into custody overnight by officers of Israel Police's northern district, suspected of involvement in a theft on Thursday in which they allegedly assaulted an IDF soldier from a commando unit, who got lost in the woods during a navigation exercise, near the Arab city of Shfaram.
Both suspects, residents of a northern Bedouin village called Ibtin, allegedly assaulted the soldier and escaped with his weapon.
Police found the suspects in an apartment near the village of Zubeidat. Bullets and other ammunition were also found in the home.
After the arrest, the suspects were taken to a police station in the northern city of Acre where they were photographed handcuffed while on their knees and blindfolded, their mouths also covered by a mask. The photographs were taken by the officers involved in making the arrests. The images were widely shared on social media.
One suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Muhammad Abu Kamir, a former IDF soldier. The name of the second suspect is under a gag order. They are suspected of robbery, stealing a weapon, carrying a weapon and an assault that caused injury. Four other suspects from northern Israel are suspected of assisting them after the theft. A court in Acre extended their detention on Monday through to next Sunday, rejecting a police request to keep the in custody for 15 days.
Authorities say the motives behind the act were criminal and do not constitute a national security threat. The Shin Bet was not involved in the investigation, suggesting that there is no suspicion of terrorism.
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An attorney for the suspects, Tomer Naveh said in response: “This is an embarrassment. We are in shock and will hand the issue over to the unit that investigates police conduct so that they may open an investigation.”
Addressing the issue of gun offenses and violence within Arab communities, Judge Ziad Salah of the Acre district said he has "witnessed how the police investigate these issues – sometimes successfully, sometimes less so."
Judge Salah also said suspects in such cases often "enjoy compliance from their immediate surroundings," which curtails the police's efficacy in combating gun violence.