Israeli Judge Orders Release of Palestinian Activist Who Was Filmed Being Beaten by Police

Judge criticizes police, who claimed the suspect assaulted officers, recommends case be turned over to Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct

Mohammed Abu Hummus at Jerusalem District Court.
Oren Ben Hakoon

Jerusalem District Court Judge Mordechay Caduri on Sunday confirmed a court order releasing a Palestinian from detention who had been arrested on Thursday for assaulting police officers. The ruling came after Judge Caduri viewed video footage of the incident in which the Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Hummus, was seen being beaten by police.

The judge was highly critical at the hearing of the police, but the police maintained that the video did not show the entire incident and that Abu Hummus had restrained a policeman while other Palestinians assaulted the officer.

In the confrontation with the police, which occurred on a Saturday night just over a week ago, Abu Hummus, a prominent activist in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, and his nephew, Ahmed Masri, were assaulted by riot police. Abu Hummus, who is disabled and uses crutches, was hospitalized at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem after the police hit him and threw him to the ground.

On Thursday, he was arrested in connection with the incident on suspicion of several offenses involving assaulting police officers. On Friday, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Sharon Lary-Bavly denied a police request extending Abu Hummus’ detention by seven days and ordered him released on bail. She stayed the order to enable the police to appeal, but the appeal was denied on Sunday and the suspect was ordered released.

At Friday’s hearing, Magistrate’s Court Judge Lary-Bavly took issue with the number of different types of assault that the police accused Abu Hummus of committing, saying sarcastically: “there are a few other charges of assault of a police officer that the police forgot to include.”

She said the video of the incident made clear what had happened. She also recommended that the case be turned over to the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct.

Video of police confrontation with Mohammed Abu Hummus.

In his ruling on Sunday on the police appeal, District Court Judge Caduri remarked that it would have been better if the appeal had not been filed. Abu Hummus was not blameless, the judge said, and in fact did obstruct the police in their work “which isn’t simple and involves great effort. At the same time, this was not obstruction that involves actual assault or assault to the extent that it demonstrates that [Abu Hummus] is dangerous,” Judge Caduri stated.

In an aside not included in the court record, Caduri told the police representative: “I did you a favor,” apparently referring to the Magistrate Court’s recommendation that the case be turned over to the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct department, but the police representative maintained that Abu Hummus had restrained one of the officers while other Palestinians attacked and injured the policeman.

Abu Hummus’ lawyer, Waseem Dakwar, told the court that while the police claim that his client assaulted them, the video shows that he fell and that five police officers assaulted him. Dakwar noted that his client uses crutches, and denied the police claim that the video footage is misleading and does not show what preceded what was on camera.

Left-wing activist Eyal Raz, who said he witnessed the incident, also challenged the police claim. “The situation was that the police jumped Ahmed [Masri] and Abu Hummus and in seconds, he found himself on the ground. His chance to do anything was nonexistent,” Raz said.

Following his arrest on Thursday, Abu Hummus complained that he was not feeling well and was hospitalized again. At Friday’s Magistrate’s Court hearing, he showed the court serious bruises on his back, the cause of which is not clear. Masri, Abu Hummus’ nephew, said he intends to file a police misconduct complaint.