Israeli soldier bites Palestinian security guard at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli soldier bites Palestinian security guard at Al-Aqsa Mosque
Mohanad Idris was spat at, choked and bit by an Israeli soldier at the Al-Aqsa compound. But now Israeli police are saying he instigated the attack.
3 min read
03 December, 2019
Israeli security forces patrol Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound [AFP/Getty]

A guard at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound was called in for questioning by Israeli police and banned from the compound, after he complained to authorities about an Israeli soldier who allegedly bit him. 

Mohanad Idris has now been blamed for the attack, Haaretz reported Tuesday, with Israeli police saying that he "cursed and threatened" the soldier. 

Idris' lawyer strongly denies the allegations and although he was not charged he has been barred from his workplace - Al-Aqsa compound

"It's clear there was no assault here. A Palestinian suspected of assault is not released and told to come back in a few days. They would have arrested him immediately," Idris' Attorney Eitay Mack told Haaretz.

Police told the Israeli newspaper that an investigation is underway. "Naturally we will not give details of an ongoing investigation. The lawsuit has not yet been received. When it comes, we will study the details and respond in court," it said.

Choking and biting

The incident occurred in August, when Idris spotted the soldier who he alleges attacked him a few weeks earlier.

As he was unable to identify the soldier at the time, he took his picture and reported him to the Israeli justice ministry, Haaretz reported. 

"He saw me filming him and came towards me. The minute I lowered the camera he spat at me. I told him that I had lodged a complaint and they would deal with him," Idris said.

A few moments later, while Idris was on the phone with the police misconduct unit, the soldier returned with another officer. "He told me 'hang up and come with me'," he said. 

"I went with him without any trouble, and when we got to the place where there were more police, one of them started attacking me," he said.

During the assault, Idris was choked and bitten. He was also hit to the ground and struck twice in the head with handcuffs, Haaretz reported. The assault was caught on camera.

Treated at Mokassed Hospital in East Jerusalem that day for sharp pains to the head, Idris then went to his local clinic for further treatment.

There, he was detained by Israeli police for around an hour, after and was summoned for questioning. He wasn't arrested at the clinic because he had his five-year-old son with him, Idris said.

Idris was informed during his interrogation that he was suspected of assaulting the soldier. A few days later he was served a restraining order banning him from al-Aqsa compound, where he works, for three months. 

"There is not the slightest doubt that the policeman lost his temper and tried to frame an innocent citizen to defend himself," said Idris' Attorney Mack. 

Restraining orders against Al-Aqsa guards have been commonplace since a dispute broke out over Bab al-Rahma earlier this year, according to Haaretz.

Scuffles between worshippers and police broke out in February over access to Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy), which has been closed by Israel for fifteen years.

Palestinians celebrated as they managed to reenter the building and crowds of worshippers prayed inside despite an Israeli order barring access to the place of worship.

Masjid al-Aqsa is the third-holiest in Islam and a focus of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

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It is also the location of Judaism's most holy spot - Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount - and a frequent scene of conflict between the two sides.

Muslim worshippers' access to al-Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock is controlled by Israeli security forces.

The religious site is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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