MK Haneen Zoabi just started a new political storm this weekend when she accused the Department for the Investigation of Police (Israel’s equivalent of Internal Affairs) of a cover-up and of “protecting criminals.” Zuabi’s remarks came following the DIP’s decision not to prosecute police officers who clashed with Arab protesters in Haifa on May 19 this year.
On Friday, 19 May, at the end of a stormy week in Haifa which was rife with Arab demonstrations against the killing of 60 rioters along the Gaza Strip border, some 300 Arabs and Jews launched yet another demonstration. This one ended with 22 detentions, and a number of demonstrators who were hospitalized after sustaining injuries after their arrest. One of the injured detainees was Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center for the Rights of Arab Citizens of Israel, whose knee was broken while he was under arrest.
According to Zoabi “the new DIP leader believes that her role is to serve the police and therefore she prevented the arrest of policemen suspected of committing serious offenses.”
Attorney Keren Bar-
“The problem is that the DIP is supposed to serve the public, above all, which is why its conduct in the current affair is not only strange but also criminal, as it has turned itself into a defender of policemen’s criminality, making the citizens especially vulnerable to this criminality,” Zoabi said. “It raises the offending policeman above the citizens and sends a dangerous message to the police: Keep breaking the legs of leftwing activists, continue shooting Arab demonstrators, I am your faithful servant and I will give you full protection.”
Zoabi noted that “under a proper regime, a police officer suspected of committing a serious offense is supposed to be detained exactly like a civilian who is suspected of committing a serious offense, and perhaps even more so, because a policeman is more dangerous precisely because he is a policeman – which is yet another sign of the fascist character of the state.”
The Police responded to criticism of its conduct on May 19 with the statement: “The Israeli police arrested 21 demonstrators in Haifa during an unrestrained protest during which they violated the public order and caused damage to property. One of the detainees was taken to the hospital for examination after he was allegedly injured in his leg. Naturally, we do not detail the medical condition and diagnosis of this or that individual due to their right to privacy. However, his case will be transferred to the relevant entities, as is customary.”
On May 28, the police announced that the Officer suspected of beating Jafar after his arrest had taken a compulsory leave of absence. The DIP transferred its findings against him to the police, suggesting these strengthen the suspicions against him. Apparently the same officer has now been reinstated.