Israeli police deny branding Star of David on Palestinian man’s face

Israeli police deny branding Star of David on Palestinian man’s face

Officers claim bruise similar to a triangle was caused by a boot pressed against his face, but forensics experts reject this, says local media

By Mucahit Aydemir

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli police denied branding a Palestinian man’s cheek with the Jewish Star of David while arresting him during a raid on his home, but forensics experts investigating the incident rejected this and said it was done using a metal tool, local media reported Sunday.

The trial of Arva Sheikh Ali, a 22-year-old Palestinian detained last Wednesday by Israeli police at the Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem on drug trafficking charges, was held at the West Jerusalem District Court, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported.

Ali said the Star of David was carved into his face during his detention by Israeli police officers.

In photos spread on social media, traces of the six-pointed star, known as a symbol of Judaism and the state of Israel, are clearly visible on his face.

The newspaper said the police “failed to provide a solid explanation” to the judge in response to the allegation.

Before the hearing, Ali’s lawyer, Ekrem Abu-Libde, said police kept him in a detention center without performing a health check, although it was legally mandatory.

The court has asked the Justice Ministry to investigate the police for misconduct after Ali was reportedly violently beaten by officers while in custody.

It decided to place Ali under house arrest Sunday, pointing to the conditions under which he was detained for four days and the police misconduct as justification for its decision.

”It is clear that serious violence was committed against the suspect in custody," it said, confirming that he had also not undergone a medical check-up.

- Forensic experts deny police claims

Responding to Ali's claims, Israeli police said he resisted arrest and that a “bruise” on his cheek similar to a triangle was most likely caused by a boot pressed against his face.

However, the Forensic Medicine Agency reported that no match was found between a boot and the facial mark.

Avner Rosengarten, the head of the Forensic Medicine Institution, whose statements were included in the Yediot Aharonot report, stressed that the mark could not have been created by pressure from boots because they are flexible and soft, adding “it is understood that it was created by a metallic tool.”

Rosengarten said the police responded very quickly to the allegations and the statement they made by acting hastily was false.

- No active cameras during detention

It was also revealed in court that although 16 police officers participated in Ali’s detention, no officer's body camera was activated, as has happened in other allegations of police violence.

Attorney Danny Bar-David, deputy director of the Public Defense's Detention Division, pointed out that the police officers involved in Ali's detention are highly experienced, noting that it was quite unusual for all of them to choose not to activate their body cameras to document the operation.​​​​​​​

*Writing by Merve Berker

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