An Israel Police officer was filmed punching a protester at a large right-wing demonstration in front of the national police headquarters in Jerusalem Saturday evening.
The protest was over the death last week of 16-year-old Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed when his car overturned in the West Bank as it was being chased by police. The police suspected that he and others with him had been throwing stones at Palestinians.
The police said the video showed just a partial picture of the confrontation Saturday evening, which they said also involved an assault on a policeman, who had been bitten. In the clashes at the demonstration, which attracted about 1,000 protesters, 21 people were arrested, including seven juveniles. The police said 11 of its officers were injured.
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The video clip shows the policeman kicking the demonstrator and then punching him in the face and head. A witness told Haaretz police officers pounced on the protester after they asked a group of demonstrators to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, which led to confrontations.
“Pushing between the protesters and police began,” the witness said. “Then some of [the police] jumped on one of the demonstrators and punched him in the face.” Demonstrators then shouted at the police, saying, “C’mon, take out your knives, kill us all.”
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents the protester who was punched, told Haaretz his client intends to file a complaint with the Justice Ministry’s police’s misconduct unit, demanding an investigation. His client is also expected to file a civil suit against the policeman, Ben-Gvir said.
In a statement, the police said the protest was marked by violence from the time that it began, and included confrontations with the police, stone-throwing at the police and at innocent civilians, property damage and injuries to 11 police officers, some of whom were taken to the hospital. Nevertheless, as is customary under such circumstances, the incident is being examined by the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit, the police said.
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The demonstrators blocked the street near the police headquarters. Some of them attacked a car whose occupants were Arab.
In the course of the protest, the police were also filmed apparently taking a baby from a couple who were protesting. The child was placed near a vehicle used to disperse crowds and was then moved elsewhere. The police said a man had been standing near the vehicle with the baby and refused to move despite repeated requests. The man was arrested and the baby was handed to the child’s mother, who was at the scene, the police added.
Since the death of Sandak, who was from the Gush Etzion West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin, hundreds of people have demonstrated on a nightly basis in Jerusalem. As a result of Sandak’s death, the passengers in the car with him at the time of the fatal accident are being investigated on suspicion not only of throwing stones at Palestinians but also negligent homicide.