Israeli-Arab Leader Whose Leg Was Broken in Custody Suspected of Insulting Police Officer

Jafar Farah, roughed up when he was detained during a protest against the army's fatal shootings of Gaza demonstrators, says he has just been informed of a new police charge against him

Jafar Farah after his ordeal at the police station last month.
Rami Shllush

Jafar Farah, director of the Israeli Arab rights group Mossawa whose leg was broken while in police custody last month, said on Tuesday police have brought a new accusation against him of insulting an officer.

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Farah was arrested at a demonstration in Haifa three weeks ago against the army’s fatal shootings of Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border. Police began investigating the case after Farah complained he had been roughed up and his leg was broken.

In a four hour session with police on Tuesday, Farah said investigators quoted testimony they had taken from Lior Hatam, the officer Farah accused of beating him, who has since been placed on administrative leave.

According to Farah, Hatam “said that he had searched me and didn’t find my phone.”

“It was amazing to hear them asking questions about a policeman who broke my leg,” Farah said. “They didn’t ask if he beat me.”

Farah had earlier been accused of illegal assembly but said that the suspicion of insulting a policeman had not been made previously.

Farah said he doesn’t know the identity of the policeman who complained about him.

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“I hope that it isn’t Lior Hatam because after all, a person who wrote racist things on his Facebook page, a man who attacked detainees, ... I assume that they shouldn’t rely on his testimony I don’t know who exactly I insulted.”

Under questioning, Farah said his interrogators showed him fliers that protest organizers had distributed, and pictures of broken tables from the area where the demonstration was held. He was told he was not suspected of organizing the event or damaging any property.

Farah added that he hopes that Hatam will be indicted. “That will be our opportunity to bring up the commander of the Haifa Police, the commander of Yasam [the Special Patrol Unit] there who acted illegally there,” he said. Farah said that he intends to personally sue those who acted against him “illegally.”

Police extended Hatam’s compulsory leave on Monday. Other demonstrators had also complained he was abusive.

The police said on Monday night in reply to reporters’ questions that the “investigation hasn’t been concluded yet, and in order to enable its completion, it was decided to extend the policeman’s enforced leave by another 10 days.”

Hatam’s attorneys, Samy and Lior Binyamin, responded that “unfortunately, the Israel Police is once again failing to learn lessons from what goes on in (investigations) and is exercising its authority on the administrative level. We can only regret that we are seeing a disconnect between those making administrative decisions in the national headquarters and the work of the police, because the decision makers don’t have sufficient knowledge about the work in the field."

The attorneys added that: “Harsh criticism has been heard from senior police officers in all districts against the decision makers on this plane, and we hope that the policeman will be restored to his job immediately, since he played no part in what the plaintiff or others with vested interests among his fellow demonstrators are claiming about him.”