Israeli Police Allegedly Blindfold, Beat, Abandon Arab Suspect in Case of Mistaken Identity

'I thought someone was trying to kill me,' said the 38-year-old Arab Israeli citizen, who was arrested by undercover officers, accused of forging a fake ID card and forced to walk home alone after being abandoned in a forest

Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia
Police smashed Mansour Abed's car before arresting him in a case of mistaken identity on Monday.
Police smashed Mansour Abed's car before arresting him in a case of mistaken identity on Monday.
Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia

An Arab motorist accused undercover Israeli police of detaining him Sunday in the central town of Kalansua after suspecting him of supporting the Islamic State – after which they beat him and left him in a forest upon discovering that they had mistaken him for someone else.

Abed Mansour, 38, said that he was blindfolded and taken to a forest near Kochav Ya’ir, south of Kalansua, where he was beaten after police refused to believe that his Israeli identity card was genuine. Mansour claims that when the police realized they had the wrong person, they freed him and commanded him to walk away and not look back.

Immediately after Mansour was released, the police arrested a Kalansua resident whom they were looking for on suspicion of incitement to terrorism and support for the Islamic State.

The case of mistaken identity followed two attacks late last month by supporters of the Islamic State in Be’er Sheva and Hadera

In a statement, the police said, “In the course of efforts to locate and arrest a suspect for supporting and identifying with the Islamic State organization, the force spotted a man whose identity had to be clarified. After it turned out that he is not related to the incident or requiring further clarification, he was released.”

An Israeli police car. Mansour's father claims police choked him when he tried to defend his grandson.

“To the extent that there is a claim regarding the conduct of the police in the incident, it is appropriate and correct to pass it on for examination by the authorized officials,” the police statement said.

Mansour, who is a resident of the nearby town of Tira, was detained while driving on the main street of Kalansua, northeast of Tel Aviv. His father and his younger brother, who has a mental disability, were also in the car at the time.

Mansour alleges that the police smashed a car window and pulled him out of the car by force. A video clip filmed by a witness shows the police putting Mansour in an unmarked car.

“All of a sudden, we saw someone smashing the car window and we heard yelling,” Mansour recounted. “We didn’t understand what was happening. They didn’t let us explain or ask [questions]. When we demanded answers, they yelled that we should keep our heads down and be quiet.”

“We arrived at a forest near Kochav Ya’ir, where they started hitting me,” he said, adding that the plainclothes officers slapped him, punched him and pushed him to the ground.

“They demanded that I identify myself, and when I gave them the ID card, they didn’t believe me. One of them yelled, ‘This is a fake ID, and you’re lying.’” He said they then checked with a police office and concluded that he was not the man whom they were looking for.

When the police understood their mistake, they decided to release him, Mansour said. “One of them took off my blindfold and told me, ‘We’re sorry. We mistook your identity. It’s not you who’s wanted. Now leave and only look straight ahead. You’re released,’” he recounted. They left him in the forest about a 20-minute walk from a main road, he said, and from there, he went home.

“They thought I was a suspect, maybe because of my appearance. I have a long beard,” Mansour acknowledged, “But I still can’t digest what happened to me. I was terribly afraid. I thought they would seriously injure me or that someone was trying to kill me. How can I know that it was really an arrest by security forces if I wasn’t taken to an official police center?”

Mansour’s father said that he and his younger son were also traumatized by the incident. The father alleged that the police choked him as he tried to prevent them from also removing his younger son from the car. “I wanted to explain to them that he [the younger son] suffers from a mental disability, but I couldn’t.”

The father said that he also had to seek medical treatment when he was injured by the glass from the car window that the police smashed. “It’s the first time that I’ve been in such a situation. We’re a regular family and none of us have a criminal past or a security [record].”

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