'Police are covering up their violence against citizens'

Honenu protested the closure of internal investigations into police violence against citizens. 'This is an illicit use of police authority.'

Shlomo Piotrokowski ,

Internal Investigations Department
Internal Investigations Department
Flash 90

The Honenu organization, an Israeli NGO which offers free legal aid to soldiers and civilians in cases where it feels there may be cases of injustice, reported that, recently, the Police Internal Investigations Department (IID) announced that it was closing the cases on two complaints which had been submitted concerning police brutality against Jews standing at the gates to the Temple Mount, this without conducting investigations based on the evidence which had been presented.

One complaint concerned an incident which occurred on the 10th of Av this year (August 14th) in which a policeman was documented threatening a young girl sitting near the Tribe's Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem that he would "break her head" if she didn't get up and leave. The girl had not committed any offense beforehand.

The IID announced that, despite the clear and explicit threat, the case was closed because "the circumstances do not warrant opening an investigation, since this is an incident which should not be clarified through criminal proceedings."

Moreover, the department claimed that the complainant did not cooperate with them. Attorney Menashe Yado of the Honenu organization dismissed this claim and sent a letter to the IID declaring that the young girl had contacted them a number of times and had been told that their investigators would contact her but they had never done so. Yado, who is representing the girl, asked that the case be reopened.

The second case concerned a youth who, on the 9th of Av a year and a half ago, had asked to go up to the Temple Mount and had been attacked and arrested. According to the complaint submitted by Attorney Yado to the Internal Investigations Department, aside from the arrest, which was termed "aggressive" by the magistrate court judge in Jerusalem, the detainee claimed that he was subjected to inordinate violence for no reason other than his appearance, as he wore Tefillin at the gates of the Temple Mount. He also claimed that a policeman named Motti Gabai prevented the incident from being photographed by another citizen and attacked him.

Despite the evidence presented to the IID, it replied that an initial investigation "did not provide a basis for the assumption that a criminal offense may have been committed by the accused." Attorney Yado contacted the IID and asked to explain and clarify whether it was referring to the claim of violence in addition to the claim of preventing photographs of the incident, or just to one of these claims.

According to Attorney Yado, the IID letter is not detailed and does not provide adequate explanations. It appears that the IID does not consider police prevention of photographing to be a crime. "Regarding the issue of preventing photography, I consider it a serious act of illicit use of police authority to protect a policeman hitting a citizen," said Yado adding that "the IID continues to close cases without checking into them. How come a police officer hits a citizen photographing another policeman acting violently and this is not investigated? How can they close a case with such serious threats made by a policeman to a young girl? The pusillanimous attitude of the IID is a cover for police violence against citizens and facilitates its continuance."