Tel Aviv 'police brutality' claim exposed as false

Analysis of footage shows Bedouin employee attacked cops first, prompts journalist to apologize for condemning police.

Ari Yashar,

Incident with Maysam Abu Alqian in Tel Aviv
Incident with Maysam Abu Alqian in Tel Aviv
Screenshot

Israeli media raised an uproar after security cameras apparently showed an Arab Israeli supermarket worker in Tel Aviv being hit by eight police officers - but a closer investigation of the footage has debunked the claims of unprovoked police brutality, and even caused some in the media to apologize.

Maysam Abu Alqian, 19, a Bedouin Arab from the Negev town of Hura, was asked by plainclothes Border Police officers on Sunday to see his teudat zehut (ID card) as he stood outside the Super Yuda store in central Tel Aviv where he worked.

According to Alqian, he refused to show his ID until an officer in uniform showed up, and he claims that the plainclothes officers began hitting him for no apparent reason.

But during an internal police investigation of the incident, a close examination of the security camera footage revealed by Walla shows the officers were actually attacked first and responded according to protocol.

The footage starts by showing the two plainclothes officers approaching Alqian outside the store on Ibn Gavirol Street in Tel Aviv, and they can then clearly be seen showing identifying documentation to him one after the other before returning the documentation to their pockets. A third plainclothes officer stands nearby, and she also presents identification.

Despite the officers identifying themselves as police officers and asking to see his ID, in a routine security protocol meant to prevent attacks by Arab terrorists from Judea and Samaria who enter sovereign Israeli territory illegally, Alqian refuses to comply.

Who struck first?

Another employee of the supermarket wearing a white T-shirt is then seen coming out of the store to defend Alqian, forcing himself in between him and the officers.

Alqian is seen gesticulating at the officers as the worker in the white T-shirt tries to prevent him from hitting them - all the while the officers do not respond to his threatening behavior. At that point other plainclothes officers arrive to provide backup, recognizing that the situation is heating up.

Eight apparent workers then rush out of the supermarket to challenge the officers and back up Alqian, at which point two other officers approach, with one dressed in partial uniform.

Alqian and the other workers then began hitting the officers, and Alqian is seen kicking out at one of them. The officers for their part back up and several passersby even try to defend the plainclothes officers, before they eventually chase down Alqian and bring him to the ground.

"From a second viewing of the video one can see that the officers identified themselves before the suspect, and acted according to what is expected of them," police told Walla in a statement.

"The claims of the suspect that he was hit by the officers do not stand up with the pictures presented in the documentation of the incident."

Funded for attacking police?

An analysis of the footage led at least one leading figure in the media to retract his initial accusations against the police.

Ben-Dror Yemini, a Yedioth Aharonoth columnist, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday: "I was wrong. I'm sorry."

"Immediately after the incident between the Bedouin youth and the officers in central Tel Aviv I published a short post condemning the police. But a check of the video footage frame by frame, which was done by Avi Ashkenazi on the Walla site, reveals that the officers apparently did indeed present documentation, and they were not the ones who started the pushing that led to violence."

"I demand that others respond to the facts. The facts prove that I was wrong," he concluded.

But despite the revelations, the backlash fueled by the initial reports of the incident have led to an outpouring of contributions for the Bedouin teen who refused to show his ID to the officers and proceeded to hit them.

According to reports on Thursday around 1,000 Israelis have raised over 100,000 shekels (over $26,000) for Alqian to pay for his university tuition fees.




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