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Israel Arrests Often Followed By Police Beatings

Israel/OT: Mass Arrests In Jerusalem And Northern Israel Often Followed By Police Beatings

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

10 November 2000

"A culture of impunity around the Israeli police is resulting in police brutality, ill treatment, threats and beatings," according to a new report issued today by Amnesty International.

The report titled "Mass arrests and police brutality" is based on the findings of an Amnesty International delegation which visited Jerusalem and northern Israel from 21-29 October. In it, the human rights organization strongly criticises the procedures and treatment of those arrested over the past six weeks in Jerusalem and northern Israel.

"Palestinians, including children, were frequently arrested from their homes in the middle of the night in a highly intimidatory fashion," Amnesty International's researcher and member of the delegation, Joanna Oyediran said.

Iyad Qaymeri, aged 17, and three other Palestinians were among a group of young men and boys throwing stones in Shu'fat in East Jerusalem, when they were arrested at 9.30pm on 1 October 2000. He was reportedly set on by five soldiers who pushed him to the ground shouting insults, kicking and hitting him on his body and in his face. They were taken to what appeared to be a military camp where they were hooded and forced to lie on the ground for about two hours; from time to time someone would come and kick them or hit them. The four were then taken to the Moscobiyyeh detention centre in Jerusalem. The night before Iyad Qaymeri's release on 5 October, police officers allegedly entered the cell and randomly beat the 30 Palestinians under 18 held there, whilst yelling insults at them.

Yoav Bar, a computer programmer, described how immediately after his arrest during an initially peaceful protest in Haifa on 2 October he was dragged by the legs for more than 50 meters by two police officers with his back sliding along the street, while other police officers beat him with batons. He was beaten again in a police car. He told the police that he thought his hand was broken; the police refused to give him any medical treatment. Yoram Bar Chaim, who protested at the treatment of Yoav Bar, was also arrested and beaten. They were both released about midnight. Yoav Bar's left hand was broken in three places. Two of his ribs were broken, and two of his front teeth were broken. His back was also injured as a result of being dragged along the street.

Amnesty International's latest report strongly criticises the breaches in judicial procedures regarding the arrest and detention of children, especially as regards Palestinian children.

"As a matter of routine, children were not summoned to the police station but arrested, often during the night, in an intimidatory fashion. During their interrogation some children were reportedly subjected to psychological pressure by being shouted at, insulted or threatened during interrogation. In some cases children were reportedly beaten by the police," Amnesty International said.

In Kufar Kana, a Palestinian village in Galilee, Bakr Sa'id, aged 15, was arrested on 24 October by a group of armed police who surrounded his house around 2am. Four police, their machine guns ready, entered the house, frightening the children and taking away Bakr Sa'id. He was interrogated the same night with shouting and threats - which were also heard by another detainee in the same station; the detainee said that when he tried to speak later in court to Bakr Sa'id a police officer slapped the boy in the face. Bakr Sa'id was released on 3 November.

Amnesty International welcomed the Israeli Government's announcement yesterday that it would set up a full judicial commission of inquiry under the 1968 Commission of Inquiry Act to investigate clashes with the security forces in which Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens were killed and wounded.

"However, it is essential that its investigations should be thorough, effective and independent. It should investigate incidents of torture or ill-treatment by security forces and any report must be made fully public," Amnesty International said, "Those responsible must be brought to justice."

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