Off-duty Border Police officers in civilian clothes savagely assaulted an Arab supermarket worker in central Tel Aviv on Sunday after he refused to identify himself because he didn't know who they were, according to eyewitnesses.
- Police body cams pit violence against privacy
- Why did Israeli police ambush and shoot at Palestinian kids?
- For three young men, a noise complaint turned into humiliation by Israel Police
The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon at the Super Yuda supermarket on Ibn Gabirol Street, opposite the Tel Aviv municipality.
The worker, an Israeli Arab, had gone outside to dispose of garbage when one of the policemen, who was dressed in shorts, demanded that he identify himself. When the worker asked by what authority he was being asked to identify himself, the policeman began hitting him, witnesses said.
"The blows were murderous, from the guy and from one of his friends. I've never seen anything like it. Teeth were flying through the air. The Arab was torn apart," Erez Krispin, an eyewitness, wrote in a Facebook post that has since turned viral.
An old lady asked the assailants why they were beating the Arab, Krispin continued, "and they shouted at her, 'Fuck off from here before we finish you off as well.' That, too, was in front of witnesses."
"Then police arrived and joined the two hooligans in beating him I really don't know if the Arab is still living. They pushed him into a police van, not an ambulance, and disappeared. It later turned that the two were Border Policemen (who didn't identify themselves, of course.)"
"He was beaten only because he's a Muslim," Super Yuda owner Kobi Cohen told Walla News. "His only crime was that he's not Jewish."
Cohen said that the original assailants were joined by plainclothes policemen and that there were as many as 10 people beating the worker.
The incident occurred in a crowded area in front of supermarket customers and many onlookers. After the beating, the worker was taken to Tel Aviv division police headquarters.
"All the neighborhood knows him and knows that he's a good guy who isn't looking for trouble," the assaulted youth's father told Haaretz.
"Attacking him brutally, and by cops, says everything about the atmosphere in Israel now, and for that I thank the prime minister and the public security minister," he added sarcastically. He said that he is still considering his next steps, whether to file a complaint with the relevant authorities or not. "What's important for me now is my son's physical and mental health," he said. "But after the entire country saw the video I don't think the police needs to wait for my complaint. They should check this on their own and make those cops and thugs who attacked him pay."
The Israel Police made the following statement: "It emerges from the initial investigation that Border Police officers identified a young man who they thought suspicious and asked him to identify himself. The suspect refused to identify himself and attacked the policemen, one of whom was bitten.
"The policemen were obliged to use force in order to arrest the suspect, who continued attacking them violently. As a result of the violence of the attack, two policemen were taken to Ichilov Hospital, suffering from bruises and bites.
"In keeping with police regulations and as is always the case in incidents in which the police are obliged to use force to carry out their duties, all the material will be sent to the division that investigates police malpractice."
MK Dov Henin (Joint Arab List) filed an urgent appeal with the public security minister, asking for answers "about what appears to be, on the face of it, as a lynching in broad daylight, an attack of an innocent civilian by police, only because he's Arab."
"A direct line links Prime Minister Netanyahu's incitement on election day, about the 'Arabs moving in droves,' and phenomena like the murdering soldier in Hebron or the ugly attack that happened today in Tel Aviv," he said in a statement.