Rights Group: Police's 'Captain George' Harrassed East J'lem Organizer

Former army interrogator had been accused of torture.

More allegations about the Jerusalem District Police adviser on Arab affairs have emerged a day after Haaretz reported the man tapped for the job had been accused of torturing a detainee in 1994 while working for military intelligence. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said yesterday it complained in February that the adviser, who is known as "Captain George," threatened and swore at an Arab resident of the city while serving on the police force.

Jawad Siam, who was harassed by 'Captain George'
Tomer Appelbaum

"George," who holds the rank of major, became infamous when he was accused of torture by Mustafa Dirani - who was abducted by IDF commandos in 1994 from his home in Southern Lebanon, and brought to Israel for questioning.

The alleged incident was said to have arisen at the Wadi Hilweh information center in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The center was established in an effort to block the expansion of the Jewish presence on the eastern side of the city.

In recounting the incident, one of those involved with the center, Jawad Siam, told Haaretz that after the center was established, he was summoned by "Captain George," who identified himself by his real name.

"He told me that we were causing problems," Siam said, "and that we have to shut the place down."

Siam said he responded: "I thought we were in a democracy," but "Captain George" allegedly said he would issue a demolition order if the center was not closed.

Siam said "George" shouted at him and sent him home with the admonition: "I hope you behave better." Siam said he was then summoned for two additional conversations with "George."

ACRI said it contacted Police Commissioner David Cohen demanding that the adviser be ordered to stop his harassment.

ACRI said Siam was humiliated during the entire course of his interrogation and accused of being responsible for everything happening in the Silwan neighborhood. "Any attempt to make use of investigative authority to 'warn' activists who are residents of East Jerusalem is absolutely impermissible. Jawad was interrogated at length about the sources of his income and the financing and fundraising of the organizations that he works for."

ACRI also said ultimately "George" attempted to enlist Siam to transmit information to the police on what was happening in the neighborhood.

Although "Captain George" declined to comment, the police response to ACRI said in part: "One of the roles of the adviser for Arab affairs is to establish contact with public representatives and activists of the population of East Jerusalem, among other reasons to enable the police to use direct lines of communication vis-a-vis local leadership. The Arab affairs adviser has many meetings with public individuals and in this context Mr. Siam was summoned for a conversation to get acquainted, designed to raise matters that are disturbing the local population in the neighborhood. The Arab affairs adviser found it appropriate to bring to Mr. Siam's attention various activities that he carried out in a manner that is apparently against the law. Beyond this, we should note that in clarifying the matter with ["Captain George"], he denied the allegations [against him] and contended that the allegations were full of inaccuracies. ["Captain George"] said the atmosphere was one of a matter-of-fact conversation."