Israeli Cops Filmed Clubbing Palestinian Journalists on Temple Mount

Several cases were documented during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the Jerusalem holy site. Police use of clubs has been on the rise after the force's commander relaxed rules governing it

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Police officer clubbing AFP press photographer on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, on Friday.
Police officer clubbing AFP press photographer on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, on Friday.Credit: MUHAMMAD ALAYYAN - AFP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Israeli police forces operating on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in recent days were caught on camera hitting Palestinians journalists with clubs.

None of the officers involved have been detained or questioned, and the police have yet to comment.

The police's Jerusalem District commander, Doron Turgeman, said in a press briefing on Sunday that he was looking into three reports of officers clubbing Palestinians during clashes in and around the holy site, but made no specific mention of members of the force hitting journalists.

Israeli police, which normally stays off the Temple Mount compound under longtime understandings with Jordan, entered the area on Friday after a crowd of Palestinian youth threw rocks and other objects at them and at the Western Wall. On Sunday, police forces entered the compound again after Palestinians blocked the way to Jewish visitors with rocks.

Footage from Friday shows a police officer beating journalist Alaa Sous with a club. She was left with a broken arm.

Footage showing police assault of Alaa Sous, on Friday.

In another widely circulated video clip from Friday, an officer is seen repeatedly hitting photographer Rami Khatib. His right arm was broken.

Officers hitting Rami Khatib, on Friday.
Rami Khatib can be heard telling officers, 'I'm a journalist' in both Arabic and Hebrew.

Khatib said that he had been filming police moving Palestinians off the steps leading to the Dome of the Rock, and then he went up the steps himself. A policeman approached him and asked who he was, Khatib said. He responded that he was a photographer for the Waqf Islamic trust, and then, according to Kahtib's account, the officer asked him what he was doing along with stone-throwers, only to start hitting him right after that. Two officers then joined in and also clubbed Khatib. One of them kicked him as he lay on the ground, the footage shows.

In a Sunday incident near the King Faisal Gate, raising further concerns about excessive police force, an officer is seen beating a Palestinian man who there with his son.

Officers beat a Palestinian man next to his son, on Sunday.

Over the past year, police began frequent use of clubs after Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai relaxed procedures governing their use. In many cases clubs have been used instead of sponge-tipped bullets, which were frequently fired during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May. After the commissioner’s directive was issued, numerous instances were filmed in which police clubbed passersby and journalists on the Temple Mount and elsewhere. The police usually use clubs to get Palestinians to leave areas that have been declared off-limits to civilians.

Over the past few days, clashes have erupted between young Arab and Palestinian men on the Temple Mount and other places in Jerusalem. On Sunday morning young Palestinians threw rocks at busses traveling up the road outside the Old City in the Dung Gate area. Seven passengers were slightly injured.

Police officer hitting a Palestinian with a club in Jerusalem's Old City, on Sunday.

Police entered the Temple Mount on Sunday morning to remove young men who had collected rocks and had put up improvised blockades to prevent visits to the compound. According to the police, 18 people were arrested, including six who allegedly threw stones at police and at passersby from rooftops in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with police and threw rocks in the Temple Mount during morning prayers. Police personnel entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and arrested 470 people – a particularly large number compared to clashes in recent years.

Some of those arrested were handcuffed and blindfolded, which is considered unusual action in this area. Most were released over the weekend. According to the Red Crescent, 152 Palestinians were wounded by sponge-tipped bullets and inhaling tear gas. Two of the wounded are in serious condition. Three police personnel were slightly injured. The clashes continued for about six hours, at the end of which the police allowed worshipers to return to the Mount.

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