Israel’s top Arab cop was put on leave Monday after security camera footage showed him leaving the scene of a fresh stabbing, failing to stick around to assist investigators, or the victim — whose body he stumbled over as he left.
According to a report Monday by the Haaretz news outlet, Jamal Hakrush — a brigadier general in the Israel Police and currently the head of the unit for fighting crime in the Arab Israeli community — went to the Kanna Iron plant in Kafr Kanna on September 12, 2020, a Saturday.
At that time, Hakhrush served as head of the administration to improve police services to the Arab community. The 65-year-old resident of the northern Arab town was on his day off. He went to the plant to pay for an order he had made.
While he was in an office on the top floor, two men were arguing nearby — Ghazi Amara, the CEO of the plant, and his uncle Fadi Amara, according to the report. Fadi’s attorney was also in the room with them.
The fight between the uncle and the nephew — revolving around a land acquisition dispute — quickly devolved into a physical altercation. During the exchange, Fadi reportedly head-butted his nephew, who bit him on the nose in retaliation.
In an attempt to calm tensions, Fadi was taken to an adjacent kitchen, where he grabbed a knife and stabbed Ghazi in the chest. The injured nephew, yelling and clutching his chest, hobbled to the staircase, where he stumbled and collapsed. Fadi locked himself into a nearby room.
Security camera footage obtained by Haaretz showed Hakrush rushing out of the building despite the stabbing, stumbling over Ghazi and ignoring the assailant barricaded in the next room.
Magen David Adom personnel attempted to resuscitate Ghazi, but in vain. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
Police officers arrived shortly afterward, broke Fadi out of the room and took him into custody.
Body cameras showed that several police officers noticed Hakrush after he returned to the scene and greeted them in Arabic, the report said.
Fadi later testified that Hakrush tried to break up the fight. The top officer said in a report at the local police station that he had noticed a person bleeding from his chest who was being evacuated by two others, and that he did not know the man’s condition.
In the wake of the the report, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said that there would be a probe into the incident and that Hakrush would be taking a leave of absence. Public Security Minister Omer Barlev had ordered Shabtai to get clarifications from Hakrush regarding the event.
“The publication apparently shows significant failures in Hakrush’s conduct,” Barlev wrote to Shabtai. “I request your response to the incident, clarification of the details, and an update on any measures taken regarding the officer.”
Senior police officials were quoted as saying they were shocked by the report, with some even insisting that Hakrush could not continue to serve in the police in light of it. “It is expected of such a senior officer to at least provide assistance to the wounded — this is not behavior that is expected of a police officer,” one senior officer told Haaretz.