Jerusalem – An Israeli policeman was caught on video on Thursday physically assaulting a Palestinian in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz.
The video shows a plain-clothes police officer aggressively confronting a Palestinian truck driver – later identified as 50-year-old Mazen Shweiki – after the latter hit the officer’s car.
The verbal confrontation quickly turns physical. In the span of two minutes, the officer headbutts, slaps, punches, knees and kicks Shweiki.
Shweiki was treated in hospital overnight on Thursday for four broken ribs and severe dizziness, his wife, Umm Rafaat, told Al Jazeera.
“We are definitely going to sue that policeman,” she said.
The video of the assault went viral.
"Son of a b*tch."
This Israeli police officer violently beat a Palestinian truck driver. pic.twitter.com/cFppMUKsef
— AJ+ (@ajplus) March 23, 2017
“I was heading to work in my truck, which was parked in the Ministry of Interior’s parking lot in Wadi Joz as usual this morning, when I was surprised by an Israeli special force officer who headed towards me and asked me: ‘Why did you hit my car?'” Shweiki, a resident of East Jerusalem, told local media.
Shweiki, a father of five, said he accidently hit the officer’s car in the car park on Tuesday, and had searched for the owner to help repair it, but had been unable to find him.
Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, contacted the Israeli minister of public security and the Israeli police chief to inquire about the matter.
Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister for public security, later informed Tibi that the police officer was put on forced leave and would be investigated.
The Israel police released a statement calling the policeman’s conduct “grave and unusual”.
The officer’s identity has not been released. He reportedly is part of a special undercover unit within the Israeli police called “Yasam”, which is responsible for riot control.
Erdan said the policeman’s behaviour was “very grave and worthy of condemnation”.
Rami Othman, a Palestinian lawyer who helped file a complaint, told Al Jazeera that had the incident not been caught on video, the Israeli police would probably have sided with the officer.
“If there was no video … the police would have turned this around. It was a chance,” he said.
More than 300,000 Palestinians live in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel claims to have annexed the territory in 1980, but that move is not recognised by the international community. More than half a million Israelis live in Jewish-only colonies scattered across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
“This is just the continuation of a violent policy adopted by the Israeli security forces stemming from an absence of accountability and rule of law on offences committed by the Israeli security forces and Israelis in general,” Kareem Jubran, a researcher with the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told Al Jazeera.
Jubran added, as of last year, B’Tselem stopped filing complaints with the Israeli police because it is a “system designed to hide facts rather than bring [people] to justice”.
“After 28 years of filing complaints to the Israeli police regarding similar incidents nothing has changed,” he said.
Elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories on Thursday, Israeli forces shot and killed 20-year-old Ahmad al-Hittab in the Jalazone refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Three others were brought to a local hospital with wounds to the head and chest.