Two Israel Border Police officers were suspended and an internal investigation was opened following a violent incident involving an Arab photographer in eastern Jerusalem on Friday.
Footage from the scene in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood shows the officers beating Mustafa al-Haruf, a Palestinian journalist and photographer for the Turkish Anadolu News agency.
According to Israeli reports, al-Haruf claimed that he was attacked without cause after leaving a prayer protest. He was taken to St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital with head and facial injuries.
However, police said in a statement that journalists at the scene attempted to interfere with the operations and refused to leave for a designated area. The police were there to arrest masked rioters throwing stones and blocking traffic.
Seven rioters were arrested and transferred for further investigation to the Kedem police station in the Shuafat neighborhood.
Jewish Breaking News quoted a lawyer for one of the officers, who said that his client is suspected of aggravated assault.
“The video published on social media has been edited. The journalist said: ‘I will be a martyr, I will explode,’ so the officer confronted him with his weapon. The journalist attacked the Israeli officer first—police tried to arrest him, he resisted arrest and therefore the officers were forced to respond. The officer was attacked and needed medical treatment,” the lawyer said.
Channel 12 reported that al-Haruf was previously detained as an illegal resident. The Interior Ministry tried to deport him to Jordan, but the court rejected the state’s position, according to the report.
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir offered support for the suspended officers in a tweet on Saturday night.
“I spoke this evening with a [Border Guard] fighter, an outstanding officer who is suspected of attacking a Hamas-supporting photographer in east Jerusalem last Friday. I strengthened his hand and informed him that I would work to restore him to operational activity as soon as the nine days of the suspension established by the Israel Defense Forces were over. We must not judge fighters ‘under laboratory conditions!'” Ben-Gvir wrote.
Ben-Gvir was in turn condemned by the Israel Press Council, which said that “it takes a very serious view against and strongly condemns the support shown by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir for the Border Police officer suspected of attacking a photographer in east Jerusalem.”
Deputy Commissioner Brik Yitzhak, the commander of the Border Police, said: “Our soldiers work all the time to maintain public order and the safety of the residents, in all sectors. The cooperation of the undercover forces alongside the visible forces is a force multiplier and proves itself in the field.
“We will not stop working hard, with determination and professionalism to fulfill our mission—protecting the safety of the citizens. However, we will not compromise on the value of our fighters and where we realize that there has been a flaw in their activities, we will investigate the events and will not hesitate to make command and disciplinary decisions,” Yitzhak said.