Rights Group Says Brutal Israeli Police Enjoy Immunity
Israeli police are enjoying virtual immunity to ill-treat both Arabs and Jews, including children, with beatings, threats and intimidation, human rights group Amnesty International said Friday.
The London-based group's report was based on the findings of a delegation which visited Jerusalem and northern Israel at the end of October, one month after the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence which has now killed nearly 200 people.
The unrest spilled over for a time into Israel, where Israeli Arabs supporting the Palestinians clashed with police and 13 were killed.
The report said that in Haifa Jewish computer programmer Yoav Bar was arrested during a peaceful protest and dragged along on his back for more than 50 meters (yards) while police beat him.
His left hand was broken in three places, as well as two ribs and two front teeth, but police refused him medical treatment, Amnesty said.
The report also criticized what it said were breaches in judicial procedure regarding the arrest and detention of children, notably Arabs.
"As a matter of routine, children were not summoned to the police station but arrested, often during the night, in an intimidatory fashion," it said, giving examples.
"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 beaten by police."
Blaming the incidents on "a culture of impunity around the Israeli police", Amnesty welcomed Prime Minister Ehud Barak's decision Wednesday to set up a state commission to investigate the killings of Arab Israelis.
"However, it is essential that its investigations should be thorough, effective and independent," the organization said. "It should investigate incidents of torture or ill-treatment by security forces and any report must be made fully public.
"Those responsible must be brought to justice."
Barak's office said Wednesday the high-level commission would investigate the sequence of events, the behavior of the inciting organizers ... and the actions of the security forces."
Israel's Arabs, who make up 18 percent of the country's population but suffer much discrimination, are descendants of Palestinians who stayed in Israel after the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 -- NICOSIA (AFP)
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