Daily Israel Report

Police Caught on Video Beating Demonstrator

A gang of policemen cruelly beating a road-blocking protestor last Wednesday night was caught on an Arutz-7 video camera.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/3/2005, 12:24 PM / Last Update: 7/3/2005, 11:14 AM

On Wednesday night, June 29, Arutz-7's Russian-language site's director Tuvia Lerner set out for the Gush Dan-Tel Aviv area, with the aim of covering the scheduled anti-disengagement road-blocking protests set for that night. At one point, he was standing at the main thoroughfare in Ramat Gan, Jabotinsky Blvd., when he saw what he later described as a "cruel, shocking and pre-meditated attack by policemen." Lerner said that despite attempts by the police to hide it by standing tightly around, he managed to film it on an amateur digital camera.

Lerner's video testimony can be seen here.

Arutz-7 spoke both with the demonstrator (see below) and Lerner. Lerner's story:

Yasam Unit Commander in Ramat Gan, Meir Namir, who took part in the attack

"I heard someone call out, 'Photographer!' When I turned around, I saw a demonstrator lying on the road, with three Yasamnikim [special unit policemen used for missions that require extra force - ed.] sitting on him, bending his arms, and putting handcuffs on him. There is no doubt that a man in this position is totally neutralized and cannot endanger anyone. I should note that I had passed that part of the road a few times before that and there was no violence at all by demonstrators.

"I saw the policemen surrounding this demonstrator. It seemed very strange to me. I pointed my camera towards them and towards what they were doing to him. The policeman who was wearing an ID tag with the name Eliran Avraham tried to prevent me from taking the pictures. He pushed me and kept on turning my camera away and threatened to arrest me. His behavior just intensified my suspicions.

"Through the screen of my camera I saw the officer, wearing a name tag with the name Eran Naim, go behind the demonstrator, go on top of him, and stick his full hand towards his face. He stuck his fingers into the man's nostrils and pulled upwards and backwards in a fast and professional way, and tore his whole face, including a blow at his eyes.

Eran Naim, who "tried to push my nose into my skull," the demonstrator said.

"I realized that I had incriminating material in my camera. I saw how nervous/angry the policeman Eliran Avraham was, in his fear that I might have managed to catch the act on my camera despite the wall of policemen blocking it, and he continued to threaten to arrest me. That's why I did not photograph the officer Eran Naim when he walked aside to wipe off his hands that were filled with the blood of the demonstrator. I didn't want to take a chance on losing the material that I already had.

"The policemen immediately picked up the wounded demonstrator and arrested him, while he was dripping blood. His head, nose and eyes were almost totally covered with blood.

"Afterwards, I disappeared from the scene so that the policemen would think that I had already given in the material to my editors, and then I came back to take more pictures.
An as-yet unidentified policeman who took part in the attack

"There were many other press photographers on the scene. No one else filmed this very hard scene. But what worries me more than anything is that I gave the material to the three main television channels - Channel 1 (Israel Broadcasting Authority), Channel Two and Channel Ten - and none of them showed real interest in receiving it. This, despite the fact that I had already done all the 'dirty work' and found the demonstrator, who has still not yet recovered. He is suffering from pain and psychological anguish.

"Despite the fact that both he and I agreed to be interviewed, some of the reporters told me, off the record, that it was a waste of effort because their editors would not approve it.

"This showed me that the watchdogs of democracy had turned into etrog-preservers."

The reference to etrogim applies to a recent remark by leading television commentator Amnon Abramovitch, who said that the media in Israel must protect Ariel Sharon "like an etrog" - the citron used and carefully sheltered by observant Jews on the Sukkot holiday - presumably, so that he not suffer a political downfall before he succeeds in carrying out the expulsion plan.

Lerner reported that he later spoke with the victimized demonstrator. The latter said that after he was brought to the police station, he was taken into a room while in handcuffs, and there he was beaten by three policemen - one of whom was Eliran Avraham.

A Gush Dan Police spokesman contacted by Arutz-7 said, "We have received the material you sent, and you will receive a response."
Policeman Eliran Avraham, who took part in the second attack upon the demonstrator in the police station


The demonstator, named Akiva, told Arutz-7 what happened from his point of view. His story (slightly paraphrased):
"I was on the scene of the road-blocking, and I heard the police near me say they wanted to arrest me. Suddenly, four or five Yassamnikim surrounded and grabbed me - each one with his own job: One choked me, one bent my arms, one poked his fingers very strongly into my nose up and down - on two different occasions - and it felt as if he was trying to push my nose into my skull. It hurt terribly. And another one poked my eyes very strongly. They handcuffed me and dragged me to the truck, and then to the police station. I asked for medical assistance, they said OK, but didn't give me. After about two hours, they wanted to give me water to wash off the blood, but I said I didn't want them to wash it off until a doctor sees me.

"A few of us [arrestees] were there together, and we were talking, and the policemen said to be quiet. I said that they can't take away our right to speak. One guy looked at me as if he was about to kill me and said, 'Is that so?' or something like that. He then took me into a side room where there was a bunch of policemen and they all started beating me up. Punches to the head, kicks, everything, while at the same time, one of them was trying to put handcuffs on me. When they finished, they sat me on a chair, with my hands handcuffed behind me, and one guy started slapping and punching me in my face and head with all his strength. I of course couldn't defend myself. It was just like one long terrible painful hurt; I couldn't feel each individual punch...

"I don't know why, but I still didn't shut up; when he finished, I said, 'I'll see you in Machash [the Complaints Against Policemen Department]. He looked at me again and started beating me up again - and then a third time. He even gored me with his head against my head one time."

Later, Akiva related, "I refused to identify myself, or be photographed, as is my right, and they put me in a room for a couple of minutes with one of the Yassamnikim from before - maybe to scare me or something. He said two things that I think are very important. First he said, 'You guys work on the issue of justice - but sometimes it's not such a good idea; sometimes you have be smart, not right.' And then he said, 'What you got today is nothing compared to what often goes on here.'" ... They finally photographed me, and then, at 1 AM, just let me go, just like that."

Akiva said he plans to file a complaint with the police department, as well as a civil suit.