Controversial CCTV footage allegedly shows plainclothes Israeli police officers pouncing on an “Arab-Israeli” next to a Tel Aviv supermarket. Eyewitnesses say the man ended up brutally beaten and arrested after he refused to show ID to an off-duty cop.
The incident, which was captured by a security camera and first published by local Israeli media including Walla news, reportedly occurred outside an Arab supermarket on Ibn Gvirol Street in central Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon.
An employee of Arab appearance walked out of the shop and was about to throw garbage into the bin when he was approached by an off-duty policeman clad in shorts, who asked to see his ID card. The shop worker refused to comply with the request.
The plainclothes officer, later confirmed to be a member of the border police, then reportedly began to beat the unarmed man with the help of a companion without any further pretext, eyewitness Erez Krispin wrote in a Facebook post, which has since gone viral. The Arab employee is said to have been unable to comply, as his ID was inside the shop. He also had no way of knowing that the man asking for his ID was an officer.
“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,” Krispin wrote as cited by the Haaretz.
The attackers reportedly called for backup, and a group of border police soon joined the fray.
When an elderly woman allegedly attempted to intervene and asked the officers why they were pummeling the man, one of the attackers reportedly hurled insults at her and threatened to “finish you off as well” if she did not “f*** off from here.”
Following the altercation, the victim was reportedly escorted into a police van, despite the severe injuries he had suffered.
“I really don’t know if the Arab is still living. They pushed him into a police van, not an ambulance, and disappeared,” Krispin wrote.
The shop’s owner, Kobi Cohen, told Walla News that the victim was actually an Israeli citizen of Bedouin origin native to the town of Negev in southern Israel.
“He was beaten only because he’s a Muslim. His only crime was that he’s not Jewish,” said Cohen, as cited by Haaretz.
Speaking to the newspaper, the worker’s father, Ahmad Abu Alqian, said he is considering filing a complaint against the officers and has urged the police to punish those responsible for the assault using the footage as evidence.
“They should check this on their own and make those cops and thugs who attacked him pay,” he said.
“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,” the father said sarcastically.
The worker’s father said that his son got a job in the grocery store to save money for his education. “The entire neighborhood knows him and knows that he’s a good guy who isn’t looking for trouble,” he noted.
The attack has triggered a new wave of discussion over an apparent atmosphere of hatred in Israel society.
The police later issued a statement denying the Krispin’s claims, while accusing the supermarket employee of assaulting the officers.
“Based on an initial investigation, it seems that Border Police officer recognized a young man who aroused their suspicion, and they asked him to identify himself. The suspect refused to identify himself and attacked the police officers, even biting one of them,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the +972 news site.
Two police officers were reportedly transported to a nearby hospital for treatment “as a result of the intensity of the violence against them,”Rosenfeld said, adding that the police have launched a probe into the incident in compliance with police regulations applicable when police have to “use force to do their job.”
“Israeli police will continue to act decisively against anyone who threatens Israeli lives,” he stressed.
Arab Israeli lawmakers are reportedly outraged over the beating. MP Boris Khenin from the United Arab List, a political alliance of Arab parties in Israeli parliament, is filing a request with the minister of public security for an investigation into the incident.
“From the looks of it, this appears to be a lynch in broad daylight, an assault on an innocent citizen by police, just because he is Arab,” he said, as cited by Haaretz, blaming PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy towards the Arab population for triggering the attack.
Arab Israeli lawyer and politician Ayman Odeh told the newspaper: “In the middle of the day in Tel Aviv, this is how the police treat Arab citizens, with racism and violence. Instead of serving and taking care of the security of citizens, the police themselves are the ones who are a real threat to our safety,” he told Haaretz.