JERUSALEM (AP) – An Associated Press photographer was pushed and beaten by Israeli police in an unprovoked attack on Friday while covering a protest in a troubled Jerusalem neighborhood, after which he was taken to a hospital with head injuries. .
The AP said it was outraged by the violence against photographer Mahmud Illean, while a leading journalists’ rights group called for disciplinary action against the police officers who participated in the attack.
The journalist was covering a weekly demonstration in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where longtime Palestinians are fighting attempts by Jewish settlers to evict them from their homes. The case, which has attracted global attention and exacerbated tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, has been before Israel’s Supreme Court for months.
According to Illean, Friday’s demonstration was relatively quiet, with only minor squabbles between Israel’s paramilitary border police and protesters.
He says that about 15 minutes after the protest ended, he was approached by a group of border police officers who threw stun grenades at him.
A video of the incident shows Illean standing in front of a white car when one of the officers approaches him, pushes him backwards, causing him to fall to the ground, and then hits him several times. In a second video, Illean can be seen photographing the police who were attacking other journalists before the agent attacked him.
Illean’s face was bloody, and he was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for X-rays. He did not suffer a fracture, and several hours later he returned home with a bruised face and a headache and back.
Israel’s border police are a paramilitary force that is often used to quell riots, and its officers have been targeted by Palestinian attackers. At the same time, its officers have often been accused of using excessive force against unarmed protesters and journalists.
“We are outraged by this unprovoked and absurd attack by Israeli police on an AP photographer, who was just doing his job,” said AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton. “That kind of violence against journalists is abominable and unacceptable.”
The Foreign Press Association, which represents about 400 journalists working for international media outlets in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said Friday’s incident was the latest in a series of attacks on police by border police.
“The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns this behavior, which raises serious questions about the discipline and professionalism of officers,” the group noted. He called for a “serious investigation” and “appropriate disciplinary actions against the agent involved.”
In response to the FPA, the police issued a statement saying that officers were clearing the area following a violent demonstration in which an officer was hit on the head and slightly injured by a chair thrown by a protester. He gave no explanations as to why Illean was attacked, saying only that the relevant authorities would carry out an investigation.