Israeli police 'plant gun' in Palestinian house for 'racist' TV show

Israeli police 'plant gun' in Palestinian house for 'racist' TV show
Samer Sleiman discovered his house featured on an Israeli crime show when neighbours told him the series final episode depicts police 'uncovering' M-16 rifles in his cellar.
3 min read
06 August, 2019
Scene in 'Jerusalem District' where Israeli police 'uncover' M-16 rifles in a Palestinian cellar [Youtube/Haaretz]

Israeli police planted a weapon in a Palestinian house in East Jerusalem so that it could be "uncovered" in a television drama.

Neighbours identified the house of Samer Sleiman on an episode of the show "Jerusalem District", a nine part docu-drama which aired on Israeli Kan TV. In the episode, Sleiman's house is searched and a cellar containing M-16 rifles is discovered.

But Sleiman was never arrested or charged after the supposed discovery. The Palestinian resident of Issawiya was subjected to a house search by Israeli police in November 2018 "after which he was handed a document stating that nothing was found there" Haaretz reported.

It now appears Israeli police planted the weapons and fabricated the entire incident for the television show. Following the Haaretz investigation, Kan TV removed the episode in question from all streaming platforms.

Sleiman fears the incident will lead his neighbours to think he is either a criminal or a collaborator, Haaretz reported. His face is blurred as required by law, but neighbours had no trouble recognising his house and voice.

Human rights lawyer Eitay Mack is representing Sleiman and has requested police open an investigation into the incident.

"My clients fell victim to a racist propaganda show that has no place in a democratic country. It was staged by policemen and officers in the Jerusalem District, apparently with the purpose of promoting themselves and presenting my clients and all Isawiyah residents as security risks, while infringing on their privacy and slandering them," Mack wrote.

At the time Mack wrote his letter, 640,000 people had seen the episode.

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The successful "Jerusalem District" docudrama portrays Israeli police operations. In the ninth episode, the show heads to Issawiya - a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem regularly subject to Israeli security operations.

In the episode, police, led by two of the series main characters, the intelligence officers Erez Hazan and Asaf Ovadia, encircle Sleiman's house in the early hours of the morning. 

They proceed to raid the property "armed with a sledgehammer and accompanied by dogs", according to Haaretz.

Police find a "locked iron door" under the house. "When we went deeper inside, it looked like a narrow tunnel that would have done justice to the tunnels they found in Gaza," Hazan narrates during the episode. 

Inside the "tunnel" police find short barrel M-16 rifles. The following scene shows Hazan and Ovadia leaving Issawiya, saying "Good work, well done," over their radio.

Unlike other episodes, which shows members of the household being arrested, this discovery prompted no arrests. 

Documents obtained by Haaretz "raise a strong suspicion that in the original search, no weapons were found, and that the guns found in this episode were planted by the police themselves for the docudrama", the Israeli newspaper reported.

After Sleiman's property was searched, Hazan and Ovadia handed him a report which stated that "nothing was found and no harm was done to anyone or anything".

Kan TV told Haaretz that the complaint is being investigated with Koda Communications production company.

Israeli police say they have received Mack's letter and that Koda is responsible for the series production and editing.

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