Witnesses: Border Police Beat Prisoners in Military Court Yard'

Five border policemen beat two handcuffed Palestinian prisoners in the compound of the Beit El military court, in the presence of their families, lawyers and Israel Defense Forces soldiers, eyewitnesses said. But the IDF, says it was the prisoners who attacked the policemen, and the latter were compelled to use force to subdue them.

One of the prisoners was injured seriously enough to require hospital treatment.

The two Palestinians, Osama Salhat of Bethlehem and Omar Abu Sneina of Hebron, were brought to the court yesterday from the Russian Compound lock-up in Jerusalem for a remand hearing. According to attorney Mohammed Na'amana, of the Galilee village of Arrabe, he and three colleagues were standing outside the court when they saw five or six border policemen violently shoving the two prisoners, whose hands and feet were both manacled, and kicking the two all over their bodies. The two eventually fell down, and at that point, he said, at least four of the policemen began clubbing them with their rifles. One of the rifle magazines burst due to the force of the blows, spilling bullets all over the ground, he said.

The lawyers began to shout for help, and one tried to separate the police from the prisoners. At that point, Na'amana said, the beating stopped. He said the entire incident lasted a few minutes. Salhat was wounded in the neck, chest and leg, seriously enough to take him to Hadassah Hospital, Na'amana added. Abu Sneina was injured in the head, but more lightly, and he was taken to the Ofer army base lock-up.

According to the IDF Spokesman, the prisoners - who were escorted by two border policemen - began holding shouted conversations with their relatives, disrupting a trial in process. When they ignored requests from the policemen to stop, the police removed them. At that point, the spokesman said, "the prisoners attacked the policemen and hit them, and one even choked a policeman with his handcuffs."