Four Border Guard officers were convicted Thursday on charges of aggravated assault and abuse of a helpless person for their involvement in a 2009 incident in which they abused a Palestinian near a Givat Ze'ev checkpoint.
According to the Jerusalem District Court's conviction, the group arrested the man - a mentally disabled Palestinian - and took him into their jeep, where an unleashed dog awaited him. The group then proceeded to beat, curse and pour water on the man.
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The former officers - Assaf Kone, Mevorach Benyamin, Buziar Farhan and Dor Yakobi - demanded to know the man's ID number but then put him in their jeep, where they beat and degraded him, siccing their dog on him and emptying their canteens on his person.
All four were convicted of abuse; while only Yakobi was convicted of aggravated assault, the remaining three were convicted of intimidation.
The presiding judge noted that despite the fact the event itself was brief, and the aggression involved light, the sum of the actions and offences was such that it mandated an abuse conviction.
In the ruling he described their actions as "cruel" and "inhumane," further noting that the officers showed no regard for the Palestinian's wellbeing, citing the unleashing of the dog as an act motivated solely by the desire to instill fear and terror in the detainee.
"The sum total of actions cannot be understood as one single act of assault. (The officers) closed in on him, controlled him and left him without the ability to resist. These acts aimed only to hurt and humiliate, hence the abuse conviction," it was stated.
Filming the hand that bites
The indictment against the four was filed after a video they shot of themselves during the incident reached the hands of the Police Investigations Unit.
With the aid of the video documentation, B'Tselem investigators successfully managed to locate the victim, who, at the time, was incarcerated after being arrested for illegally working in Israel.
Nonetheless, the human rights organization managed to secure a testimony from the victim; during the deposition, B'Tselem lawyers noted that his mental disability was easily discernable.
According to the man's testimony, he was waiting along the road near his house when "Suddenly a jeep came out of nowhere, and two or three (Border Guard) men got off. One of them put me in the vehicle. Inside was a wolf dog."
According to him, when asked, he informed the officers that he was only waiting for family members; they informed him that he was not authorized to be at that location and proceeded to abuse him.
"The hit me on my back and sides, they hit me especially hard on my right arm. I was also hit on my shoulder, specifically my left shoulder. They used clubs and brass knuckles."
At this point in his testimony, the man claims the group introduced the dog into the situation.
"The dog climbed me and put his head on my chest. I felt he could bite me. I was very scared; it was a very big and scary wolf dog. I was shaking, it was very scary," he said, noting that the ranking officer was the only thing preventing them from allowing the dog to bite him.
"I was more afraid of the dog than of the officers," he recalls. "I tried to resist and get out, escape the dog, but a soldier screamed at me – 'Auskut!' (quiet) – pushing me back in the dog's direction. They then kicked my legs with their boots.
'They filmed me, laughing and mocking me'"I was crying all the time, I told them I have no issue with anything and that I have done nothing. I said 'be merciful, I have done nothing' but they didn’t listen to me," instead ordering him to "sit down and shut up."
According to him, they then proceeded to pour water over him, "I remember one emptying his canteen on me. I remember him pouring water on me at least three times. One of them was pushing the other to pour more."
Recalling the moment he became conscious of the fact that he was being filmed by the officers' mobile phones, he said: "They filmed me, laughing and mocking me. They cursed me and my parents, in Arabic and Hebrew."
The Border Guards then took him out of the jeep and let him go - but not before threatening him: "Run, they told me, run and don’t stop until you reach your home, otherwise we'll shoot you.
"The jeep was following me, and I was running ahead of it. I was scared that if I would stop, they would actually shoot me."
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report
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