A Palestinian man who was detained by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem said he has been physically abused after officers brutally beat him and branded the Star of David on his cheek, according to Israeli media reports.
The man’s lawyer presented the charges to a Jerusalem district court on Thursday, a day after he was taken from his residence in the Shuafat refugee camp.
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At least 16 officers were involved in the arrest of the Palestinian man, however, none had their body cameras on, according to the Ynet news website.
The officers blindfolded the man and proceeded to beat him with their fists “in all parts of his body”, Ynet reported. The man’s cheek was then branded with the Jewish Star of David symbol, it added.
Wadim Shub, the Palestinian man’s lawyer, was quoted as saying in a statement that the incident was “a grave case of intentional violence and humiliation of a detainee by police” and demanded an immediate police investigation.
“As a law-abiding country, we must not put up with the phenomenon of police brutality. In this case, the nature of the injuries raises a strong suspicion that they were racially motivated,” Shub said.
The presiding judge, Amir Shaked, reportedly expressed his “horror” over the incident, the Times of Israel reported, and directed the case to the police’s internal investigations department.
The police department alleged that the man “resisted arrest, violently attacking and kicking police who responded with ‘reasonable force’ to subdue him”.
The Palestinian man was detained for allegedly committing “drug trafficking offences”, the reports said.
Al Jazeera reached out to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Israel is currently holding more than 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners, according to figures published by the rights group Addameer. At least 1,200 of them are held without charge or trial in a widely criticised practice known as administrative detention.
Israeli forces often conduct near-daily pre-dawn raids into the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an attempt to crack down on a growing armed resistance.
Armed soldiers often prompt confrontations with Palestinian residents, arresting and even killing many of them.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed this year in the occupied Palestinian territories and the United Nations has warned that 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians since it started recording fatalities.
Palestinians and human rights groups have long accused Israeli forces of killing Palestinians under questionable circumstances. They say Israel does a poor job of prosecuting and punishing its forces in cases of wrongdoing.
Investigations often end with no charges or lenient sentences, and in many cases, witnesses are not even summoned for questioning.
Last month, an Israeli court acquitted a border police officer who was charged with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of Eyad al-Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man.
The court ruled that the officer was acting in self-defence when he shot the 32-year-old in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City three years ago.