Israel closes case of prison guards caught beating Palestinians

Israel has filed a case involving at least 10 Israeli officers who were filmed beating Palestinian detainees, according to an Israeli media report, in what has been described as one of the most violent incidents against prisoners in a Israeli prison.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported Friday that only four officers were questioned and none were arrested after the March 24, 2019 incident in Wing 3 of Ketziot prison, where dozens of Hamas operatives were being held.

The footage showed around 55 Palestinian prisoners bent over the ground and immobilized, as Israeli officers beat, kicked and beat them with batons. The prisoners were ordered not to speak or move for hours.

The Israel Police Unit investigating prison staff said the official reason for the escalation was an “unknown offender,” before closing the investigation, Haaretz said.

According to Israeli media, a Hamas operative who was among the detainees stabbed two officers, injuring one earlier in the day.

At the time of the incident, the prison administration said in a statement that prison guards attempted to restore order in the wing after riots broke out over the stabbing.

But the footage showed no riot. Instead, security camera footage showed security guards beating prisoners without provocation.

“They were going to kill us”

According to Amir Salum, a 26-year-old from Shofat, a Palestinian refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, who was serving a four-year sentence in Ketziot prison at the time of the incident, the situation worsened without any right.

“They decided to move us from Wing 4 to Wing 3,” Salum, who filed a complaint, told Haaretz.

“Suddenly, in the middle of the movement, we heard someone scream ‘stab, stab! In a few minutes, the guards of the Masada [Israel Police Service] the unit came in and started firing those steel bullets at us. We then fled to the other side of the wing, ”he said.

Another unit then entered and “put constraints on us and no one resisted, then they just started beating us with batons,” Salum continued.

“They threw us in the middle of the wing, like we were nothing, and beat us without us being able to defend ourselves.

“We were sure they were going to kill us,” he told Haaretz.

“Everyone prayed to God. It was only after seeing all the blood around me that one of the officers ordered that I be taken to the clinic. They also beat me along the way, ”Salum said.

Another prisoner, who also lodged a complaint about the incident that night, called the events “brutal and random violence by the guards, claiming that a guard had beaten him seven or eight times. with an iron baton, ”Haaretz reported.

Ali Da’ana, a Palestinian prisoner serving a 20-year sentence for attempted murder, said in his complaint that the guards had waged a campaign of reprisals against the prisoner, according to the daily.

“I was beaten mercilessly by masked guards while I was lying on the ground for no reason,” he recalls. “It was revenge. I told one of them I had a chronic illness and he said it didn’t matter. They kept hitting,” he said. he declares.

Lack of evidence

The Israeli police reportedly failed to identify all of the officers involved in the incident, despite the presence of the video footage.

According to Haaretz, police investigators said security cameras were not sufficient to identify officers in the prison wing that night.

The prisoners said they could identify the perpetrators, but no further investigation was carried out.

Instead, only four officers were briefly questioned on suspicion of assault and battery.

Albert Goldberg, a commander at Ketziot prison, said a riot broke out in the wing over the stabbing allegations.

“It was decided to call in reinforcements to calm the situation … To my knowledge, there was a controlled use of force to carry out the mission and there were no exceptions,” he said. in Haaretz.

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