Israeli guards seen brutally attacking Palestinian prisoners in newly-released footage

Israeli guards seen brutally attacking Palestinian prisoners in newly-released footage
The video shows Israeli prison guards beating handcuffed prisoners with baton and kicking them while they are on the floor.
3 min read
11 June, 2021
A screenshot of the security camera footage show guards standing over handcuffed prisoners [Youtube/Haaretz]

Video footage of Israeli prison guards brutalising Palestinian prisoners at the infamous desert prison in Israel’s Negev was released by Haaretz on Thursday. 

In the security camera footage, prison guards can been seen dragging handcuffed prisoners across the floor and throwing them into a pile, where they are then beaten with batons and kicked. 

The prisoners were ordered not to move or talk, with many being held, handcuffed and forced to lie on the ground for many hours. 

“They threw us into the centre of the wing as if we were nothing and beat us without us being able to defend ourselves. They broke my jaw, teeth and nose,” Amir Salom, who has been imprisoned for four years, told Haaretz

The incident, which happen on the night of 24 March, 2019, occurred on Wing 3 of Ketziot Prison, which is used to hold Hamas members.

A senior Israeli Prison Service (IPS) official told Haaretz that the events of that night are the most violent ever seen in an Israeli prison. 

Relations between the prisoners and the prison guards had been extremely tense in the period running up to the fateful incident. Prisoners had been angered by the decision to install phone blocking technologies, that would prevent calls being made on phones that had been smuggled into the prison. 

Smuggled in phones are frequently the only means available to prisoners to keep in contact with their families on the outside. 

According to the IPS the guards moved into the wing when a riot broke out after two guards were stabbed, although documentation from the event does not record any riot taking place. 

Salom recalled that as he and other prisoners were being moved from wing three to wing four, they heard some shout “Stab! Stab!”

“Within a few minutes, guards from the Masada unit (a special takeover unit of the IPS) entered and started firing such metal bullets at us. We fled to the edge of the wing,” continued Salom. 

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Other prisoners described to Haaretz the brutal and random nature of the attack by the prison guards. 

“A jailer gave me blows with iron rods, 7-8 blows or so. He kept saying, 'Are you a man to attack wardens?’” he said.

The incident was documented and complaints were made, but police investigators claimed that they were unable to identity the guards in videos, despite the prisoners saying that they would be willing to identify the attackers.

Investigators did question four guards on suspicion of assault. 

One of the guards questioned said that “the restraint of the prisoners in Wing 3 was done using reasonable force to achieve the mission.”

Following interviews, the investigating officer, Commander Yehuda Aharoni, wrote a letter to the State Attorney's Office, in which he recommend that the investigation be closed. 

“The force was used to restrain and stop the riots in the prison, and as a result, force and measures were used when the force was protected and therefore it is not possible to identify guards,” he wrote. 

The recommendation was accepted and the investigation was closed.