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Police said to beat relatives of seriously hurt Palestinian man in the hospital

Officers reportedly assault family members of man wounded at funeral for another Palestinian killed in clashes; police say they used ‘reasonable force’

Police detain Palestinians during clashes after the funeral of Walid a-Sharif in East Jerusalem, May 16, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Illustrative: Police detain Palestinians during clashes after the funeral of Walid a-Sharif in East Jerusalem, May 16, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Police reportedly assaulted relatives of a Palestinian man hospitalized in serious condition when they arrived at a Jerusalem hospital to arrest him on Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses and hospital officials told Haaretz that officers beat the man’s relatives with batons. One of the men lost consciousness and required medical treatment.

Nader a-Sharif, 50, was hospitalized at Shaare Zedek Medical Center after he was shot in the head with a sponge-tipped bullet during fierce clashes on Monday in East Jerusalem between police and mourners at the funeral of one of his relatives, a Palestinian man who died after being critically wounded during clashes on the Temple Mount last month.

Thousands of Palestinians participated in the funeral for 21-year-old Walid a-Sharif. Palestinians said he died after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet during the clashes on April 22. Police said he fell and hit his head while throwing rocks.

Witnesses said Nader a-Sharif was hit moments after he finished helping to fill in the grave, and was not involved in any stone-throwing. He was hit in the head by the sponge-tipped bullet. The report said he suffered severe eye damage and there were concerns he could also have brain damage.

On Tuesday morning, officers arrived at the hospital to arrest a-Sharif. According to Haaretz, they handcuffed him to the bed and told relatives that they had to leave the room.

Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians following the funeral of Walid al-Sharif, 23, who died of wounds suffered last month during clashes with Israeli police outside Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, on May 16, 2022 (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Eyewitnesses told the newspaper that two of Sharif’s brothers and a cousin were escorted out of the room and were attacked by the officers. It was unclear if anything had preceded the violence.

“We were near Nader, two policemen came in, and one of them told me that my brother is a terrorist and he is under arrest and we cannot be here,” Naser a-Sharif was quoted as saying. “Without speaking, they each began to administer blows.”

Another brother, Nael, lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital’s emergency room for treatment, the report said, adding that sources at the hospital verified the details of the attack.

In response, police said they were called to the hospital amid reports of a brawl between family members.

“Police arrived at the scene and, noticing what was happening, asked the family members to leave the scene,” the statement read. “An additional team of police officers was called to the scene and were forced to use reasonable force to expel the family members who had entered a medical area and refused to leave.”

The reported violence came a day after the release of video footage from last week’s funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh that showed dozens of Israel Police officers rushing into a hospital before the procession began, hitting and shoving people inside, including patients, and firing from the grounds of the medical center.

Israeli police officers are seen in Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Jerusalem, from where Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh’s funeral set out, on May 16, 2022. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The video clips — security footage from inside East Jerusalem’s Saint Joseph’s Hospital — were presented by local Christian leaders at a press conference during which they tore into police conduct during Abu Akleh’s funeral.

Police have already been under immense international scrutiny for other scenes captured at the Friday funeral, namely of officers rushing at and beating mourners as they carried Abu Akleh’s casket outside the hospital, nearly causing it to fall to the ground, and the firing of stun grenades.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American and a 25-year veteran of the Al Jazeera satellite channel, was killed last Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. The Palestinians insist that she was killed by army fire, while Israel has said there is not yet conclusive evidence that would determine whether she was shot by IDF soldiers or by Palestinian gunmen.

The footage released at Monday’s press conference showed dozens of officers — wearing helmets, protective vests and batons — rushing into the hospital before her funeral procession began.

Officers were also seen firing on the outside grounds of the hospital; it was not immediately clear what they had fired.

A clip shown at the press conference showed officers shoving a man on crutches to the ground as they ran through the hospital, leading to the victim getting trampled in the chaotic scene.

The Church leaders said during the press conference that they were weighing possible action against the police in both Israeli and international legal forums.

The Israel Police has offered a series of explanations for its use of force on the day of the funeral, including claiming that a mob of “300 rioters” had seized the casket at the hospital. This was denied by Shireen Abu Akleh’s brother in an interview with The Times of Israel on Sunday.

A decision was made to launch an internal probe of the police’s handling of the incident, law enforcement said.

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