Yerushalayim (Andrew Friedman/TPS) – Members of the Arab community said Thursday that the suspension of an Israeli police officer who was filmed beating a truck driver in Yerushalayim was insufficient, and called for the officer to be arrested and brought to trial.
The officer was filmed early Thursday head-butting and kicking a truck driver in the Arab-majority Yerushalayim neighborhood of Wadi Joz. The video (See below) shows two men arguing, apparently over a parking spot, when out-of-the-blue the officer slams his forehead into the driver’s head and kicks him several times in the stomach. The officer also appears to attack several residents who try to calm tensions by intervening on behalf of the driver.
The truck driver, Mazen Shweiki, said the officer beat him and would not let him speak, and he feared the officer would use his gun.
Police spokespeople and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the video “very serious” and said the officer had been suspended while investigators look into the incident. “[These actions] do not represent the values or behavior we expect from police officers,” Erdan said. “I hope the police investigation unit will work quickly to bring the officer to justice.”
But Arab MKs said the suspension was not enough. MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) demanded the immediate arrest and indictment of the officer, as well as two additional officers joining in what Tibi called a “beating festival.”
“This is a brutal incident more suited to members of the mafia or a gang, not individuals who are supposed to be enforcing the law,” Tibi said.
Tibi’s party colleague, Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh, added that “the problem with the police is not one violent officer. The root of racist violence is very deep in the department, and it is only spreading with the current police commissioner and public security minister.”
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-on seconded Odeh’s comment, saying no one should be surprised about the incident. “The police investigations unit (Machash) is forever closing investigations into police violence against Arabs, Ethiopians, and demonstrators, saying [the investigations are] not in the public interest.
“This is the natural result,” Gal-on said.
Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld refused to comment on Gal-on’s statement.