Activists say police broke knee of Arab-Israeli arrested at protest in Haifa

Footage shows Jafar Farah walking on his own two feet as police arrest him at demonstration against Israeli conduct in Gaza, and lying in a hospital bed hours later

Arab-Israeli NGO worker Jafar Farah arrested by police at a Haifa demonstration against Israel's conduct in Gaza on May 18, 2018. (Screen capture/Twitter)
Arab-Israeli NGO worker Jafar Farah arrested by police at a Haifa demonstration against Israel's conduct in Gaza on May 18, 2018. (Screen capture/Twitter)

Left-wing activists on Saturday accused police of badly beating an Arab-Israeli NGO worker after arresting him at a Haifa demonstration against Israeli actions in Gaza.

Organizers of the Friday protest said Jafar Farah, chairman of the Mossawa rights group, was being treated at Bnai Zion Medical Center for a broken knee sustained during his questioning overnight.

Farah’s son posted on Facebook that his father was handcuffed to his hospital bed and remained in police custody.

Footage of his arrest the day prior shows Farah being led away in handcuffs and walking on his own.

It was unclear how he suffered the knee injury, and police did not respond to The Times of Israel’s request for comment.

The rights worker was one of 21 protesters arrested for what police said was “violating public order” during the demonstration.

The chairman of the Joint (Arab) List, MK Ayman Odeh, slammed police for their “brutal dispersal” of the demonstration and called on the attorney general to review the incident. He also criticized police for its conduct during a demonstration of some 200 people on Monday against the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A number of MKs from the Joint List took part, including Odeh.

Riot police surrounded protest in down town Haifa tonight and immediately attacked protesters.21 arrested so far.#Haifa #Gaza #GreatReturnMarch #حيفا #فلسطين #مسيرة_العودة_الكبرى #غزة

Posted by Nadine Nashef on Friday, 18 May 2018

“The wild attack on us by police in Jerusalem and the attack and arrest of the demonstrators in Haifa, over claims that raising the Palestinian flag constitutes incitement, is untrue and also illegal.”

According to reports in the Hebrew-language media, Odeh confronted police officers on Saturday outside the Bnai Zion Medical Center where Farah was being treated, calling one of them a “zero.”

Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli also condemned the Friday incident, calling Farah “a partner in the struggle for equality and peace.” In a tweet, the opposition lawmaker said his treatment at the hands of police was “frightening,” and vowed she would demand an explanation from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan next week.

“The lives of Israeli citizens must not be abandoned, even if they are Arabs,” Michaeli said.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly “March of Return” protests, which Israel says are orchestrated by the ruling Hamas terror group in Gaza and used as cover for attempted attacks and breaches of the border fence.

Earlier on Saturday, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during Monday’s border clashes had risen to 64, with more than 2,700 wounded in the violence.

Hamas has admitted that 50 of the dead were members of the terror group. Three others were Islamic Jihad members.

The weeks-long campaign of protests against Israel, known collectively as the “March of Return,” were to end this week, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. About 1,000 protesters took part in demonstrations Friday.

The Palestinian deaths during the protests were met with international outrage. On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council ordered an investigation into the killings. Israel said it would not cooperate, and the US castigated the move as “shameful.”

Israeli Arabs and Palestinians demonstrate outside the new US embassy as the ceremony to inaugurate the United States’ controversial embassy in Jerusalem began on May 14, 2018. (Ahmad GHARABLI/AFP)

In Jerusalem on Monday, police arrested 14 left-wing activists who were protesting the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem near the new mission building in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood. Among the protesters were several Arab members of Knesset, some of whom scuffled with police and one of whom was pushed at one point to the ground by officers.

The detainees “did not keep to the terms that the protesters had agreed upon with police,” a police spokesperson said. Police said some chanted “Allahu Akbar” and waved Palestinian flags during the demonstration.

The spokesman refused to elaborate as to why such flags and chants were considered a “provocation.”

Footage from the protest near the embassy, held as Israeli leaders and senior US officials gathered inside for the dedication ceremony, showed MK Jamal Zahalka of the predominantly Arab Joint List party shoved to the ground by officers he was scuffling with. Another member of his party, MK Masud Ganaim, was also seen angrily confronting Israeli forces.

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