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Arab activist allegedly beaten by police officer at rally mulls Knesset run

Jafar Farah said to be considering Joint List’s Hadash party, says he wants to fight the occupation, racism and poverty

Arab Israeli NGO worker Jafar Farah, who alleges a police officer broke his knee after he was arrested. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Arab Israeli NGO worker Jafar Farah, who alleges a police officer broke his knee after he was arrested. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Rights campaigner Jafar Farah, an Arab Israeli who accused a police officer of beating him and breaking his knee after his arrest at a Gaza solidarity rally in Haifa last year, announced Thursday that he is considering running in April’s Knesset elections.

“In my opinion, we must present an alternative to the corruption, occupation, racism, the cost of living, poverty and violence,” Farah told Channel 13 news.

“The democratic forces must reorganize and promote a real peace, a shared life, a multicultural society, social justice, recognition of historical injustice and the Nakba, and building a better future for both peoples,” he said, using the Arabic word for “catastrophe” used by Palestinians to describe the creation of the State of Israel.

Farah is reportedly considering joining Hadash, a socialist Jewish-Arab party that makes up part of the Joint List in the Knesset.

“I want to influence the political discourse, and I will do so within the framework of a bi-national and social movement. Even if I decide not to run this time, I intend to return to political activity in order to influence public opinion and legislation,” Farah said.

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)

Police’s Internal Investigations Department (PIID) announced last October it intends to indict a police officer for beating Farah and breaking his knee after his detainment at a Haifa protest in May 2018.

The officer, whose identity has been kept under wraps, has been on mandatory leave since the incident.

Farah was arrested with 20 other people during a Gaza Strip solidarity rally in Haifa, in the wake of which several accusations of brutality were leveled against police. He claimed the police officer kicked his leg, shattering his knee, while he was held in a detention facility.

Police initially insisted that all of the arrests were “carried out lawfully and in accordance with procedures.” They said the protests had included stone throwing at officers, property damage, attempts to block roads and the disturbing of public order.

Activists protest against the arrest of 21 people at a demonstration, Haifa Magistrate’s Court, May 20, 2018. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

The officer denied he used any physical force against Farah. Other police officers who were with Farah while he was in custody also gave testimony maintaining that the activist was not injured by the accused officer, and suggesting instead that he had hurt his leg during the scuffles at the demonstration, Haaretz reported at the time.

But footage of Farah’s arrest showed him being led away in handcuffs and walking on his own.

The officer was later questioned as PIID probed the accusations.

Police are seen at a pro-Gaza rally in Haifa on May 20, 2018. (Police Spokesperson)

The case brought about some diplomatic tensions, as a European Union statement calling for a probe of Farah’s claims elicited angry responses from Israeli ministers.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, in charge of police, said the bloc should not “get involved in internal Israeli matters. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, doesn’t need any moral warning calls from a biased and obsessive entity like the European Union.”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz went even further, saying the EU could “go to a thousand, thousand hells” for asking Israel to probe the incident. “It’s the height of insolence, the height of hypocrisy,” he told Radio 103FM.

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