An Israeli police officer who beat a Palestinian youth with a club at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate was suspended on Thursday for five days, after he was questioned by the police's internal investigation unit.
The officer, Fadi Ghanem, said that he acted in accordance with police regulations during Tuesday's incident because the youth flouted instructions by returning to the site.
In the video by Itamar Carmon of the All World News organization, the Palestinian is seen approaching the officer to complain that another policeman had beat him.
The cop then asks him who beat him in Arabic, and the youth pointed at another policeman nearby. The officer then asked “do you want me to hit you on the other leg?” Before the youth could answer, the policeman hit both his legs with the club. The Palestinian then fled from the spot.
Ghanem’s lawyer, Itzik Cohen, responded to the decision: “This clip is biased as it documents an isolated incident which was part of crowd dispersion efforts at Damascus Gate due to disruptions of order by East Jerusalem residents. This man is a rioter who refused to leave after the crowd was ordered to disperse and crowd control weapons were used against people.
”He returned to the place and refused to leave for the second time. In keeping with regulations, force was used against him with a club which is used to control crowds. Images of evacuating and controlling rioters are never pretty, but one must take into consideration that the event did not begin when the clip did and the circumstances for the use of force are relevant to the issue of whether the act was legal or not.”
In making its verdict, the police investigation unit said it had drawn on security camera footage and testimonies from witnesses of the incident.
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This is not the first time Ghanem has been suspected of violating police regulations. He was questioned in the past by the police investigation unit for assaulting a civilian. In June 2019, during a left-wing demonstration in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Ghanem knocked down activist Guy Butavia and forcibly arrested him. Butavia was released shortly after.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel filed a complaint to the police investigation unit, which investigated but ultimately closed the case four months later, claiming “the criminal process isn’t a suitable format to sort (the case) out.”
Butavia subsequently filed a civil suit against the state for the assault and arrest, and was paid 3,000 shekels ($931) in compensation.
Tension has been mounting in Jerusalem over the past week due to a number of violent incidents. On Sunday, Palestinians clashed with police in East Jerusalem after human bones were discovered during construction work near the Old City walls.
On Saturday, Palestinians near Damascus Gate threw stones and attacked Jewish passersby. In response, police used crowd control weapons and police attack dogs to keep demonstrators away. Last week, Jews assaulted a Palestinian family in the center of the city.