Officers convicted of beating Arab bystander get community service
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Officers convicted of beating Arab bystander get community service

Yosef Abadi and Oshri Ohayon receive light sentences for assaulting unarmed man during May 2016 manhunt for Jerusalem stabbing suspect

Illustrative: A Border Police officer frisks a Palestinian man in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on September 20, 2016. (Sebi Berens/Flash90)
Illustrative: A Border Police officer frisks a Palestinian man in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on September 20, 2016. (Sebi Berens/Flash90)

Two Border Police officers were convicted of beating an Israeli Arab man in 2016 and sentenced Tuesday to community service.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that Yosef Abadi, 22, of Rishon Lezion, and Oshri Ohayon, 23, of Beit Shemesh, must serve 100 and 75 hours of community service, respectively.

The sentence is lighter than prosecutors had hoped for, but leaves the two ex-cops with criminal records.

According to the conviction, on May 2, 2016, officers Abadi and Ohayon took part in an operation to track down a terror suspect after a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. While searching for the suspect in the Old City’s Christian Quarter, the two saw the plaintiff walking in the street.

Convinced he was the stabbing suspect, they approached him and one of them struck him with the butt of his rifle.

The violence began without cause, the court ruled. The plaintiff, an unarmed Israeli Arab bystander who was not the target of the manhunt, was not questioned by the officers and was not informed that he was under arrest or detained.

When the plaintiff demanded to know why they were hitting him, the officers cursed him and began to punch him in the back, head and hip. One of the officers pressed the man against a doorway and began to strangle him. An officer cocked his rifle and called for a third officer, who was not a defendant in the case, to “shoot him.”

When the plaintiff cried out that he had an infant child, the officers beat him in the groin with the butt of a rifle.

Apparently realizing they had assaulted an innocent man, they then began to walk away. The plaintiff called after them that he would file a complaint against them. This caused one of the officers to turn back, cock his rifle again and slam the rifle butt into the man’s chest.

The plaintiff told the court he suffered injuries to his right eye, back, waist and abdomen.

Hila Edelman of the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department, who prosecuted the case, said her department “argued that these kinds of actions, when carried out by those in uniform while on duty, hurt not only the plaintiff but the public’s trust, the police and the rule of law. That’s why the officers needed to be convicted. The conviction reflects the PIID’s commitment to uncover criminal acts by police officers, and the ongoing battle against police violence.”

Abadi’s attorney, Adi Keidar, said his client rejected the conviction and would appeal.

“Despite the light sentence, we can only express our disappointment and surprise at the court’s lack of consideration,” he said. “This was a fighter who risked his life in an operation and found himself in a situation with unique elements that justified special consideration to prevent this fighter’s past from holding him back through a criminal record. We will appeal.”

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