(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A brawl erupted outside a central Tel Aviv supermarket on Sunday between Israeli Border Police officers and an Arab supermarket employee, sparking a massive uproar after witnesses claimed that the policemen used excessive force against the Arab man. Security-camera footage from the scene was inconclusive.
Speaking to Army Radio on Monday, 19-year-old Maysam Abu al-Qian said, “When I returned from making a delivery for the supermarket, a man dressed in civilian clothing stopped me and asked me for my ID card. He refused to tell me why he was asking for it or why I was being arrested. I asked to see his badge, or to see a uniformed police officer. It didn’t take long before more people arrived, and the altercation turned into a violent brawl. A lot of people just started beating me in the face, in the back, in the eye. I tried to explain and to ask what they wanted from me, but no one replied. I don’t know how long it lasted. I don’t remember much.”
The off-duty Border Police officers involved in the fight argued that al-Qian, a resident of the Bedouin village of Hura, refused their demand to produce identification and began attacking them violently, which prompted them to arrest him.
Several eyewitnesses posted personal accounts of the incident on Facebook, claiming an unprovoked attack by the police officers. The store manager, identified as Kobi Cohen, said he came out of the store to see what was happening before additional officers arrived and the violence started.
“They were speaking to him, and he just stood there. He didn’t try to escape. They asked him for his ID card and didn’t identify themselves. He asked them for their ID. They called for backup, and when the other policemen arrived, they beating began,” Cohen said.
The incident ended with Al-Qian’s arrest, but after a late-night hearing, a Tel Aviv judge decided to release him to house arrest at his parents’ home in Hura. The judge prohibited him from contacting anyone involved in the incident.