Justice Ministry Urges Disciplinary Action for Policeman Who Attacked a Temple Mount Guard

Department for investigation of police officers said they saw no reason to launch a criminal investigation, despite video evidence of the policeman beating the guard

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Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man who tried enter the closed al-Aqsa mosque compound which remains shut to prevent the spread of coronavirus, in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 24, 2020.
Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man who tried enter the closed al-Aqsa mosque compound which remains shut to prevent the spread of coronavirus, in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 24, 2020.Credit: Mahmoud Illean,AP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers on Monday instructed the police to bring disciplinary action against a policeman who attacked a Waqf guard on the Temple Mount for improper use of force.

The department, known by its Hebrew acronym Mahash, informed attorney Eitay Mack, who represents the guard, that it saw no reason to launch a criminal investigation against the policeman.

The incident in question took place last August. The guard, Mohanad Edris, noticed the policeman, who he said had attacked him several weeks before; he started to photograph him and called Mahash to report him. “He saw that I was photographing him, and he came over to me,” says Edris. “When I put down the camera, he spit on me.”

According to Edris, after a few minutes the policemen came back with an officer. “I was on the phone with Mahash and he said, ‘hang up the phone and come with me.’ I went with him without making a fuss, and when we got to a place where there were other policemen, one of them started to hit me,” he said. According to Edris’ account, which is backed by a video clip, the policeman choked him from behind and bit him on the shoulder blades. Afterward he threw Edris on the ground and hit him on the head twice with metal handcuffs.

Edris was taken to a hospital for treatment. Afterward he was told that he was suspected of assaulting a policeman and was kept away from his work for three months by police orders. The police told Haaretz after the incident that Edris had cursed and threatened the policeman. The case against him remains open.

Rina Derbas, in undated photos before and after the injury.

In another case, Mahash decided to close the case against a policeman who was the subject of complaint by a woman from Isawiyah in East Jerusalem, who claimed that he assaulted her. The woman, Rina Dirbas, was attacked as she tried to prevent her son, 14, from being arrested. Dirbas said that one of the policemen hit her in the face hard with the butt of his gun and caused skull fractures. She needed several operations and a plate inserted into her head. Mahash said it was closing the case for lack of blame.

A Palestinian detained in Jerusalem, May 27, 2020.

Police on Monday detained Palestinians for 90 minutes at Jerusalem’s Train Track Park because they were walking through the park without masks. The Palestinians and other passersby said the police deliberately targeted them, even though there were hundreds of people there without masks. According to witnesses, one of the Palestinians yelled at the police officers, who cuffed him and took him to a police station for questioning. A Jewish witness said the police officers acted aggressively both toward the Palestinians and passersby who tried to intervene on their behalf.

The police said regarding the detention of the Palestinians: “Unlike what’s being claimed, policemen operating in the area asked a group that was walking around without masks in contravention of the guidelines to identify themselves. When one of them refused to identify himself and started a confrontation with the police, the police were forced to detain him, and when he refused to listen to police instructions, the suspect was arrested. The Israel Police will continue enforcement in accordance with the authority vested in it by the Public Health Ordinance, to preserve public order and health.”

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