Israeli Military Officer Filmed Kneeling on Palestinian's Head During Arrest

60-year-old says he felt choked ■ Army calls video misleading, says violent rioting was underway ■ Video shows another officer breaking car window, pointing gun

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration in Shufa, September 1, 2020.
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration in Shufa, September 1, 2020. Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

A military officer was filmed kneeling on the head of a 60-year-old Palestinian while arresting him during a protest in a West Bank village on Tuesday.

In another video from the scene, a different officer is seen breaking the window of a car the man had entered and pointing his gun at another Palestinian's head.

The military said the demonstration in the village of Shufa, near Tul Karm, was violent and that the video was "only partial, slanted, and does not reflect the rioting and violence toward the army forces that preceded the arrest." It further said that "the entire incident will continue to be examined by the commanders in the coming days."

The man arrested in the video, Khairi Hanoun, said demonstrators were protesting the expropriation of land in the area. "As far as I'm concerned, this is a totally legitimate, nonviolent protest," he said. "A few elderly people marched, thinking that soldiers wouldn't attack us, but we were mistaken. They attacked us like thugs. I'm 60, what can I do to an armed soldier? But for the officer on the scene, I'm a threat, and within minutes he began to brutally attack me." Hanoun referenced the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying: "That's how I felt, and I felt he was choking me."

Hanoun said that a few people helped him get up and that he then began to feel weak. He added that he entered a car so he could be driven away, but the soldier broke one of the car's windows. "It was brutal behavior without a reason," he said. "We came out to protest against land appropriation and against damage to our property. There's no threat to anyone in that." Hanoun said he did not require medical attention and does not plan to submit an official complaint. "There's no one who will listen to me," he said. "There were journalists there who captured it, for the world to see."

A statement from the military said of the incident: "Earlier today, a violent riot was held next to Tul Karm with the participation of some 200 rioters. An initial inquiry showed that the riot included stone throwing and attacks on IDF troops. This is an area where riots have occurred for a few days in a row."

According to the statement, "during the riot, the IDF force used riot dispersal methods. At one point, a Palestinian, who is known as a central agitator and participates in many riots in the Judea and Samaria area, shoved the force's commander a number of times and tried to create a provocation. The commander showed restraint, but after a number of attacks on him, the force was required to arrest the suspect because he kept attacking the force and rioting. The suspect also resisted his arrest, and the force was forced to handcuff him. After his arrest, the suspect was given medical treatment at the scene."

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