On 'Nakba Day' Sunday, as a Lebanese protest near the border with Israel turned violent, protesters on the other side of the border were clashing with police.
The clashes peaked when Kobi Bachar, deputy commander of the Galilee District Police, slapped an Arab protester roughly in the face. The protester, Attorney Maisa Arshid of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, had joined around 25 other Arab students in marking the Palestinian day of mourning over Israel's founding.
Police had come to disperse the gathering, which took place near the border-side town of Avivim, because the protesters did not have a permit. But they refused to vacate the area, which due to escalations in violence across the border had been declared a closed military zone.
After insisting they leave, to no avail, Bachar delivered a sharp slap to Arshid's cheek. The rebuff was documented by one of the Arab students present at the illegal gathering.
Fida Shahdi Maloud, who was present at the protest, said the students could not leave because their bus failed to pick them up on time.
"Ten minutes later special forces arrived and Bachar introduced himself. He said we had two minutes to vacate the area and that what we were doing was illegal. He did not answer questions, asked that we stay off the road, and when Arshid asked why we were not allowed to protest he slapped her and said, 'Don't talk to me like that'. Then the special forces attacked us and fired tear gas," Maloud said.
PCATI filed a complaint against Bachar Monday morning. "Israel Police continues to prove that rule of law is a foreign concept to it. Beating and arresting a lawyer for questioning a police officer about the unlawful arrest of protesters is highly illegal and unethical," said CEO Yishai Menuhin.
"It's time police officers behaved according to law and not their ability to use unlawful force against lawyers and protesters."
Israel Police had no official comment, but the Galilee subdivision said the protesters had clearly been attempting to create a provocation. "Though they were told it was an illegal protest they did not respond to the police's request to vacate the area and forces were forced to use reasonable force to disperse them. Eight were arrested," the district said in a statement.
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