West Bank: Israeli undercover agents draw guns, violently arrest Palestinian man at falafel stand

West Bank: Israeli undercover agents draw guns, violently arrest Palestinian man at falafel stand
Laith al-Atrash, 24, was arrested and violently dragged away by Israeli Mista'arvim officers, who pose as Palestinians to carry out operations.
2 min read
17 March, 2024
Over the years, the Mista'arvim undercover officers infiltrate Palestinian areas and cities to carry out arrests and other operations [Getty/file photo]

Undercover Israeli police officers violently attacked and detained a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Bethlehem at a falafel stand on Saturday evening, local media reported.

The man, identified as 24-year-old Laith al-Atrash, was arrested at his father’s falafel restaurant located on the main Jerusalem-Hebron street in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh camp.

The Israeli officers appear to pose as customers at the restaurant in a video shared online, and seem to wait for their order to be taken as they queued alongside other customers, before proceeding to attack al-Atrash and arrest him.

The violent incident reportedly took place before Iftar, the fast-breaking meal consumed at sunset during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, according to AlAraby TV.

In the video, which looks like CCTV footage from the restaurant. a man presumed to be al-Atrash can be seen violently pulled away by the Israeli undercover officers, causing him to fall over the falafel stand – before being dragged away by his clothing.

Remaining staff members – visibly alarmed by the incident – are seen putting their hands up in fear after the Israeli officers pull out guns and point them.

Customers can also be seen fearfully walking away, with some putting their hands up in the air.

The undercover police officers are members of the notorious Mista'arvim or Musta'arbin, an Israeli undercover unit whose operatives disguise themselves and assimilate as Palestinians.

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The range of their operations includes gathering intelligence, infiltrating protests, carrying out arrests and assassinations and stifle Palestinian dissidence.

The Israeli NGO B'Tselem says Mista’arvim have killed at least 161 Palestinians between 2000 and 2010, with 19 victims being under the age of 16.

It remains unclear why al-Atrash was arrested. However, Israeli forces have carried out large-scale raids and arrests over the weekend in several cities across the West Bank.

At least 25 people have been arrested on Saturday and Sunday, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society said, with raids across Tulkarem, Ramallah, Jenin and Jerusalem.

Among those detained is a woman from Gaza, who was headed to Jerusalem to complete medical treatment for cancer.

Around 7,630 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank since October 7, amid intensified Israeli violence in the occupied territory, in the backdrop of Tel Aviv’s deadly military onslaught in Gaza, which has killed 31,645 victims.