Police Severely Beat Palestinian Workers After Bogus Terror Attack Tip-off

To justify broken bones, officers claim Palestinians tried to flee ■ Victims remanded in detention, not allowed to testify in person because they are a COVID risk - without medical proof

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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A construction site in Modi'in, December 20, 2018.
A construction site in Modi'in, December 20, 2018.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Police severely beat two Palestinian men at a construction site in central Israel on Thursday, during a violent intervention following a terror attack tip-off.

One of the victims' shoulder was dislocated, and another's nose was broken. A medical examination revealed other fractures.

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Earlier that day,the police received a call from someone saying they were planning to carry out a terrorist attack. It later transpired that the person who made the call was at odds with the owner of the phone.

Most of the Palestinian workers at the site attempted to flee, the police said. Four were arrested for being in the country without a permit. One of them hid in the bushes and another ran away before he was apprehended, the police said.

Police asked to extend the detention of the four men at a hearing on Friday. Police representatives claim that officers only used force after the men ran away. But although one of the Palestinians present admitted he had hidden in the bushes, the others denied fleeing the scene, saying they were in an enclosed space and had nowhere to escape to. 

“The police's special patrol unit, [Yasam] came and I was afraid of them,” one of the Palestinians who was beaten said. “One of the cops told me ‘I’m going to do to you whatever I want.’ I told them not to hit me because I didn’t flee, but they grabbed us and smacked us and threw me on the ground, broke my arm and my nose. I couldn’t sleep yesterday because of the pain.”

Another detainee told his lawyer that “They beat up my brother right in front of me, they broke his arm in front of me, and he wasn't even resisting arrest.”

A Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court judge strongly criticized the police and demanded an investigation into the incident. The Palestinians' lawyers filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry's unit that investigates police misconduct

Hiding injuries?

Three of the four men arrested only participated in the hearing through video conference, despite their insistence to come to court.

The Israel Prisons Service claims that a doctor had recommended they enter quarantine because they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including a “suspicious cough."

But the three men denied they had any symptoms. The court criticized the Prison Service for not allowing them to attend the hearing and demanded to see medical documentation that would support the doctor's opinion.

“Does this have something to do with them having had their faces busted?” the lawyer of one of the Palestinians from the public defender’s office, Abed Abu Amar, said. “I have a disquieting feeling. The suspect wasn’t brought to court so we wouldn’t see the injuries he sustained. Even now it seems he sustained serious injuries.”

Inmates in an Israeli jail in the northern Hermon area, August 3, 2020.Credit: Gil Eliahu

Judge Eyal Cohen said that the picture presented during the hearing was "troubling," adding that it is unclear why the arm of one of the Palestinians was broken and why the other was severely beaten. He demanded that the police include materials on the violence used against the four men during their arrest in future hearings.

However, Cohen also granted the police's request to extend the  four Palestinians' detention by three days since some of them had a criminal record and a history of security offenses. The police intend to charge the four with staying in the country without a permit.

"Suspecting one of the suspects may be armed, the police officers acted swiftly to make arrests," the police said in a comment about the incident. "After being investigated, the suspects were indicted for staying in the country without a permit,” the statement added.

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