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East Jerusalem parents denounce Israeli police's assault of Palestinian school principal

May 8, 2017 6:37 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2017 3:33 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The union of parent committees in occupied East Jerusalem schools held a sit-in on Monday in solidarity with the principal of a preparatory school in the Beit Hanina neighborhood, who was hospitalized last week after Israeli police officers arbitrarily assaulted and detained him.

The head of the union, Ziyad al-Shamali, told Ma’an that Israeli police were chasing a vehicle driven by a Palestinian in Beit Hanina on Thursday, and detained the young man in the Beit Hanina preparatory school’s yard.

When school principal Hassan Ghneim came out to the yard to ask Israeli officers what was happening on the school premises, the officers started swearing at him, then violently assaulted him and held chains around his neck, causing Ghneim to fall to the ground and suffer a head injury, al-Shamali said.

Ghneim told Ma’an that he had come out after the Israeli officers hit a young student with their vehicle following the detention of the young Palestinian man, bruising the child.

Video footage recorded by an eyewitness showed Ghneim being forcibly dragged away by the neck, as Israeli police officers pushed away bystanders who were trying to help Ghneim.

The officers detained Ghneim and took him to a police station in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov, where they continued to hurl insults at him.

Ghneim was then released without any charges held against him, and was hospitalized to treat the wounds and bruises he suffered from the attack.

The demonstrators on Monday held posters reading “Houses and schools have sanctity,” “Our schools are a red line,” “Stop undermining our rights,” and “The perpetrators must be punished.”

The parent committees union denounced in a statement "the savage detention of the school's principal before the very eyes of terrified schoolchildren," and held Israeli police responsible for the assault.

The union also called on Israeli authorities to denounce the assault and carry out legal procedures against the officers involved.

A spokesperson for the Israeli police could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

However, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an in August that "Israeli police don't attack Palestinians," when contacted over reports that Israeli forces had assaulted 11 Palestinians in two separate incidents in the Old City of East Jerusalem.

In March, an Israeli police officer was caught on camera headbutting, slapping, punching, kicking, and kneeing a Palestinian in the lower abdomen Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed at the time that the video showed “dangerous and unordinary individual behavior” that did not reflect the usual conduct of Israeli police forces.

However, Palestinians have long claimed that Israeli forces abuse their position of power to verbally and physically humiliate and assault Palestinians on a regular basis.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem routinely report mistreatment by Israeli forces, while Palestinians have often accused Israeli forces of detaining Palestinian youths without any evidence of wrongdoing and assaulting them in the process.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers, soldiers, and police officers committing violent acts against Palestinians.
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