A Palestinian worker filed a complaint to the police after he was assaulted by his Israeli employer. The police closed the case within a day – with no investigation whatsoever.
Sometimes you wonder why the Samaria and Judea Police Department (SJPD) even bothers taking statements from Palestinians when it doesn’t even intend to pretend to investigate them. The case before us is just one of many.
Earlier this year, Ahmed Id Muhammad Barakat worked in a petting zoo belonging to the settlement Givon Ha’Hadasha. His employer, B., had another Israeli employee who we shall call E. When it was time to pay Barakat, B. apologized and said he was short on funds, and promised to pay in 40 days. Forty days later, on August 17th, Barakat and his cousin came to Givon Ha’Hadasha to get his money. Upon his arrival an argument broke out between him, B. and E. B. wanted Barakat to go back home, saying that he will call him when he had the money. Barakat insisted that since he was already there, he should be given what is rightfully his.
At one point, as Barakat noted in his complaint to the police, E. asked Barakat to come with him to a nearby warehouse. Barakat followed him, thinking he was about to receive his pay and that E. didn’t want to have an argument in the presence of other clients. To his shock, E. siced a dog on him. Barakat managed to escape the dog, but not before E. physically attacked him. E. then left the area, only to return with a knife. When Barakat saw E. approach he fled the settlement, along with his cousin.
The police were called, and here something unusual happened: Barakat noted in his statement to the police that the cops asked E. to show them his ID card, E. said he was going to retrieve it – and fled instead. Lo and behold: even though the cops knew his identity, they did not try to chase or arrest him. This is how Barakat described the incident in his statement to the police.
This all took place on August 17th. On the following day, the police showed unusual alacrity and closed the case – not by recommending that E. be tried, but by declaring a “lack of public interest” in the case.
Let’s give a brief rundown the incident, according to the detailed statement given to the police:
A. A Jew used, according to the statement, excessive violence (physical assault, unleashing a dog, threatening with a knife) toward a Palestinian.
B. There were several witnesses to the incident. The police did not bother taking their statements.
C. There were security cameras present, and the police did not bother to gather the footage, despite the fact that the complainant noted the presence of cameras to the police.
D. The police knew the identity of the suspect.
E. The statement notes that the suspect fled from the police, thus committing the offense of obstructing a police officer.
F. The police did not bother to find the suspect afterward the incident.
G. And to top it all of, they closed the case – in just 24 hours! – citing the “lack of public interest” clause, which may not be used in cases of severe assault.
Hold on, what was that noise? Oh, right – my jaw hitting the ground.
Now, if you thought the police acted rather quickly, let us correct you. They closed the case on August 18th, but only bothered informing us – Yesh Din, as Barakat’s attorneys – on September 14th – almost a month after the incident. Furthermore, the police only granted Yesh Din permission to photocopy Barakat’s police file on October 13th – nearly two months after the incident. And after a long series of evasions, we managed to photocopy the file on October 30th. All in all, the police needed a day to close a criminal case using a ridiculous clause, but needed more than two months to provide the relevant documents.
At the end of November, our attorney Noa Amrami appealed the police’s decision to close Barakat’s case. In her appeal, Amrami demanded the police take one of two actions: either they act to immediately bring E. to trial, since the law finds one testimony sufficient for an indictment. The other option was that, at the very least, the police re-open the case, and investigate it properly this time around.
We’ll keep you posted.