Police’s Internal Investigations Department (PIID) intends to indict a policeman for beating and breaking the knee of Arab Israeli rights campaigner Jafar Farah after his detainment at a Haifa protest in May.
In a statement, prosecutors said they would indict the policeman, pending a hearing, for “assaulting detainees, threats and causing injury to detainee Jafar Farah at Haifa Police Station on May 19, 2018.”
Farah welcomed the decision and said he expected “an apology from the police commissioner” for doubting his claim that he had been assaulted long after being arrested.
“I hope the officer is punished,” he said, but added: “It’s not just this one policeman. This is a system that has become rotten with a culture of lies and violence. It’s regrettable that for months police commanders lent their hand to lies against me.”
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 on Friday night.
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.
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.
Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich appeared dismissive of Farah’s accusations in the days following the incident, acknowledging that “the claims need to be checked,” but adding that “every lawbreaker has claims against police officers,” and calling the protest “violent and illegitimate.”
The case also 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.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.