New video shows Israeli police beating a Palestinian man during a house eviction in Jaffa. The video raises fresh questions about Israel’s treatment of non-Jewish citizens.
A new video has been posted on YouTube of Israeli policeman from the special YASSAM riot police unit beating and kicking a 34 year old Jaffa man during a house eviction which took place earlier this week. The man, Sameer Kassem, is seen holding his four year daughter while policemen attempt to remove him from the house using excessive force.
According to a Jerusalem Post report on the eviction,
Sameer said he and his family have been homeless since May when his mother, who used to help him with his expenses, died and he could no longer pay rent. He said that he, his wife, and their five children moved to the vacant house on Salameh Street about two weeks ago after someone set their tent at the Shtayim park on fire. He also said that his children were having trouble sleeping at the tent city, especially after recent rainfall. Kassem’s sister had been living at the vacant house for a few weeks and invited him to stay there with his children, he added.
According to Kassem, on Tuesday they were informed by police that they would arrive in the afternoon to evict them and he decided to begin packing their belongings in the meantime. When police finally arrived, he said he decided to take his infant and hole up in the house, hoping that maybe police would relent and allow them to stay.
The Israeli police have rationalized their use of force by stating in a media comment that Kassem ‘“threatened to blow up the building using a gas tank and to harm his daughter. His sister threw shards of glass at police and opened the gas line. Reasonable force was used in order to rescue the daughter from her father.”
Kassem has filed a lawsuit against the police for their use of force during the eviction. The video was shot by an Israeli activist named Haim Shwartzenberger. Often the only witnesses to house evictions in Jaffa, which is part of the Tel Aviv municipality, are Israeli activists who routinely document and distribute their materials on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.