Police Arrest East Jerusalem Resident for Giving Them the Finger

'If every person who gives the police the finger will be arrested, half of this country will be in detention,' the suspect's lawyer said

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Israeli border police arrest a man in Jerusalem's Old City, last week.
Israeli border police arrest a man in Jerusalem's Old City, last week. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Israeli police arrested a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem for giving them the middle finger on Tuesday, though the suspect denies the allegations.

The suspect, a 30-year-old man, performed the gesture while he was driving through the Old City of Jerusalem.

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A Jerusalem court decided to release him on bail and without additional conditions, though police have asked the court to extend his detention and issue a restraining order for a racially motivated insult of a public servant.

Police footage of the incident as well as a statement were released on Wednesday. According to the statement, the man had “fled the scene” and afterward the police carried out “rapid operative actions while using advanced technology to locate him."

Earlier this week, the police asked the court to extend his detention for seven more days for the crimes of insulting a public servant and making threats – a relatively long detention, considering the nature of his actions.

Judge Sharon Lary-Bavly of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said on Tuesday that giving a police officer the finger “is not a crime that would require extending his remand."

"But, these are difficult times, Jerusalem is burning and actions such as those of the defendant are capable of leading to anarchy, and for that reason it can be justified,” Lary-Bavly added.

The suspect said that while in detention, police officers harshly beat him. According to his lawyer, the suspect was placed in a dark room and one of the officers told him "if I see you again I’ll kill you."

"They took off his belt and hit him with it several times," the lawyer added. "He pled with them, saying that he hadn't done anything when he was handcuffed. One of the investigators pulled out his phone and filmed my client, saying that he would post the video on TikTok."

"If they were to arrest everyone who had given the police the finger, half the country would be in detention," the suspect's lawyer said.

On Monday, the police arrested another suspect who allegedly gave the finger to police officers near the Temple Mount over the weekend. Video footage of the incident shows the man cursing and waving the finger at the police.

Israel Police arrested more than 300 suspects this week, the vast majority of whom are Arab, on suspicion of involvement over the past two weeks in the riots and clashes in Arab towns and mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

About 60 of the suspects have been brought before judges to have their detentions extended. The others were released after questioning. Police said 15 percent of all those detained were Jewish, but only two out of the 60 brought before judges indeed were. The remaining 58 were all Arab.

Thousands of police officers have been involved in the arrest operation, which began early Monday morning, the police said. Despite criticism by public leaders, police officials plan to move on with the operation with dozens more arrests by the end of the week.

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