A Palestinian minister filed on Monday a complaint against Israeli police officers, who he says abused him, beat him and forced him to wear a dirty and bloody mask during his arrest on Friday.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hadami was arrested on suspicion of acting on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in coordinating its coronavirus response in East Jerusalem, which is illegal under Israeli law. Israel views any Palestinian Authority presence in Jerusalem as a violation of the Oslo Accords.
Al-Hadami, himself a resident of East Jerusalem, has been in office for a year. During his tenure he was arrested four times, including the latest one on Friday, for his work with the Palestinian Authority with Jerusalem.
In all four cases, al-Hadami was briefly questioned and subsequently released without Israeli authorities pressing any charges against him.
On Friday around 5 A.M. police officers accompanied by a canine unit arrived at his house. According to a complaint filed by attorneys Mohand Jabara and Ahmed Safiya to the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers, the officers "decided to break into the residential building where his apartment is located, unnecessarily blasting the front door of the building without even bothering to knock on the door."
According to the lawyers, police "brutally" conducted their search, "along with shouts and curses, in a clear attempt to insult our client."
The search, al-Hadami's lawyers stated, was conducted without allowing the family to be present, allegedly in violation of the court-issed warrant.
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The police even brought dogs into his five-year-old son's room while he was sleeping and conducted a search without his parents present, the lawyers claimed.
During the search, the police confiscated about 10,000 shekels ($2,800), according to Palestinian sources, intended as charitable donations.
Later, according to the complaint, one male officer "forcefully and unlawfully seized al-Hadmi’s wife for no reason, while cursing and shoving her brutally and without cause.” The police force, the lawyers point out, did not include any female officers.
The complaint goes on to say police took al-Hadmi to the patrol car and the same officer "took a mask that was lying in the police patrol car with clear signs of dirt and even signs of bleeding, and forced Mr. al-Hadami (to remind you, a minister of the Palestinian Authority) to wear it forcibly, while he paid no attention to the claims that this was a mask with dirt and blood."
“Our client’s nightmare seems only to have begun when they reached the area of the Russian Compound, where, after our client felt suffocated by this same dirty mask with blood stains and after he attempted to remove it, a large police officer with a long beard named Moshe Shahal pounced on him like an animal, and began to kick our client all over his body, including punches and slaps to his face and kicks to his stomach while cursing harshly and forced our client to wear this same dirty mask with blood stains,” wrote the lawyers.
After all this, al-Hadami was questioned briefly and asked about his activities on behalf of the Palestinian Authority concerning the fight against the coronavirus in Jerusalem. About six hours after he was arrested, he was released without being brought before a judge or with any restrictions.
The Israel Police said al-Hadami's account of Friday's events contained some "fundamental inaccuracies," without specifying what those may be.
On Sunday the Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith was also arrested under suspicion of acting on behalf of the PA to combat the coronavirus crisis. Ghaith, a resident of East Jerusalem, was arrested about 10 times over the past year, but he too has never been indicted.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court rejected a police request on Monday to extend his arrest by eight days. Judge Naeel Mohana rejected the request outright and wrote in his decision that he has “looked into the investigation and found that there is no reasonable suspicion of an offense attributed to him in a way that justifies his arrest or even house arrest.”
The judge ruled that Ghaith’s activity complies with Health Ministry guidelines and was also intended to disseminate information among residents which does not violate the law. The police appealed the decision to the district court, which will discuss the matter.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, police arrested several PA activists who carried out disinfection work in neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and released them after a brief time. Two days before the arrests, Israel authorized a large, armed Palestinian force to operate within Jerusalem.
The force, Unit 101 of the Palestinian National Security Forces, was called to Kfar Aqab, a neighborhood inside the municipal borders of Jerusalem that is located outside the separation barrier. The force acted to separate two groups of Palestinians who were shooting at each other, as part of a struggle for control of a roadblock intended to enforce the coronavirus closure on Palestinian communities.
The Palestinians claim that the approval given to the armed force to operate in the city makes the police enforcement against the PA’s activities in Jerusalem look ridiculous – enforcement that includes dispersing events such as a soccer tournament, children’s festival and an even to mark Women’s Day.