Palestinian Involved in Breaking the Silence Scandal: I Was Arrested and Beaten by Border Police

Hassan Joulani's statement to Haaretz undermines state's claim that Breaking the Silence's spokesperson lied and that the Palestinian 'denied that his arrest involved any violence'

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Hassan Joulani and Dean Issacharoff after Joulani was arrested in Hebron in 2014.
Hassan Joulani and Dean Issacharoff after Joulani was arrested in Hebron in 2014.Credit: Activestills
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

A Palestinian the police took testimony from regarding an alleged beating he suffered in 2014 has said members of the Border Police beat him, not a soldier. His testimony was taken as part of an investigation into the Breaking the Silence spokesperson's claims that he had brutally beaten a Palestinian during his military service. Breaking the Silence is a group that collects testimony from Israeli soldiers and veterans, and opponents of this group claimed the spokesperson lied about the beating.

>>Breaking the Silence releases video 'corroborating' claims that their spokesman beat Palestinian

Hassan Joulani’s statement to Haaretz contradicts the claim by state prosecutors that Joulani “denied that his arrest involved any violence by anyone, save for the use of force to handcuff him, which was necessary given his resistance to being handcuffed.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to a query from Haaretz.

The Breaking the Silence spokesman, Dean Issacharoff, has testified that when he was an officer in the Nahal infantry brigade, he assaulted a Palestinian man in Hebron after the man was arrested for throwing stones at soldiers in February 2014. Investigators identified the man as Joulani.

But Joulani has told Haaretz that he was badly beaten by the Border Police, not Issacharoff, and that after being beaten he was handed over to soldiers, among them Issacharoff. He said the soldiers took him into custody and did not strike him.

Joulani said the incident occurred during a demonstration marking 20 years since the mass shooting of Palestinians by Baruch Goldstein in Hebron while the incident Issacharoff testified about happened after a routine round of stone-throwing at soldiers. Joulani said the Border Police officers who struck him were the ones who also handcuffed him, while the incident Issacaroff referred to ended with him handcuffing the yet unfound Palestinian.

Joulani, a Hebron resident, told the police that six Border Police officers beat him with their hands and rifle butts, and pushed him against a wall. When he raised his hands, they pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him.

He said he felt dizzy and confused. To the best of his knowledge, the police did not record his testimony. He had to sign a document written in Hebrew, he said, adding that he does not remember the name of the policeman who questioned him in Hebrew and Arabic.

He told Haaretz he asked the policemen to give him a certificate of good behavior so he could renew the work permit taken from him because of the arrest.

Joulani said he was unaware of the controversy in Israel over the Issacharoff investigation. He and his friends told Haaretz that the arrest or detention of Palestinians in Hebron for a few hours is routine and not always filmed. The many roadblocks on Shalala Street separating Jewish settlers from the rest of the city makes it a regular site of clashes between youths and soldiers.

At least 50 protesters were arrested at the 2014 demonstration to reopen Shuhada Street to Palestinians. Most were released. Joulani was tried and sentenced to six months in prison. Because of his record, it was apparently easy to locate and question him about Issacharoff, who was filmed taking him into custody.

Joulani said that after the incident he was interrogated in Kiryat Arba and jailed in Gush Etzion in the West Bank, where soldiers tore up his work permit. He told Haaretz that he was still hurting from the arrest, his beating at the demonstration and his time in jail.

Joulani, who was 20 in 2014, worked nights at an Israeli factory in a settlement near Mishor Adumim. He returned to Hebron every few weeks.

He said he went to Hebron after a night shift, a few hours before the demonstration. About 1,000 demonstrators started marching on Shalala Street. Some participants told Haaretz that the protest began quietly, and that the stone-throwing only began when soldiers started firing tear gas and stun grenades at them.

Joulani said he saw solders leaving the Beit Romano checkpoint, then members of the Border Police. About a dozen demonstrators were injured, the media reported.

Joulani said he threw one stone out of anger at the army’s actions, and then members of the Border Police suddenly appeared and beat him. He added that during interrogation, he initially denied throwing stones, before admitting he had thrown one stone. He said he also told the policeman who took his statement two months ago that he had thrown one stone.

Joulani, who works in renovations in Hebron, said soldiers came to his relatives’ home about five months ago, just as he was arriving with a cousin. The soldiers asked to see ID and asked him if he had been arrested. When he said yes, they contacted someone he understood to be from the police, who instructed the soldiers to ask for his telephone number.

About three months later, he was called to the police to testify about his 2014 arrest. Both soldiers and the policeman who took his statement were polite, he added.

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