Palestinian loses eye in ‘pointless attack’ by Israeli police

Rights groups have documented the random use of violence by Israeli police against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank for years [GETTY]

Two Israeli border police officers are being investigated for throwing a hand grenade and seriously injuring a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank in a “pointless attack”, in a rare case of indictment by Israeli courts.

A Palestinian man was attacked by the border guards and lost sight in one eye in an incident in January 2023 in the northern West Bank near the Salem Israeli military base.

The border police were travelling in a convoy after returning from monitoring a military raid in the town of Jenin when two of the police officers decided to hurl a grenade at a Palestinian man standing on the side of the road.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing an indictment from the Israeli justice ministry’s department for police misconduct, said the two men were charged with a “rash and negligent use” of an explosive device.

The indictment noted that a convoy of military and police vehicles were returning from the Jenin operation and had passed the man who was standing by his car smoking a cigarette and watching the convoy.

“A few moments later, indictee number two opened the vehicle door and held it [open] with his hands and feet in order to enable the throwing of the grenades toward the complainant,” the indictment reads, as reported by Israeli media.

“Two grenades were thrown from the vehicle, one by indictee number one and the other grenade by an additional [third] police officer, whose identity is unknown to the prosecutor, without any justification.”

The charges carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison, despite the severity of the action which resulted in the Palestinian man losing an eye and suffering injuries to his arm.

The indictment noted that the two police officers, whose identities were not disclosed, attacked the man “without any justification”.

The two border police are being charged on counts of recklessness and negligence.

It is highly unusual for Israeli police and soldiers to be charged and found to have committed crimes against Palestinians by Israeli courts, despite overwhelming testimony and documentation from human rights groups.

In April, the US said it was looking into five units of the Israeli forces for human rights violations in incidents against Palestinians in the West Bank.

One of the units concerned is an ultra-orthodox military battalion called Netzah Yehuda made up  in part of West Bank settlers and was close to being sanctioned by the US government according to reports.

The unit has been accused of violating the rights of Palestinians over a long period of time, but Israeli authorities have failed to take remedial action despite being alerted by US officials.

In 2022, a 78-year-old Palestinian American man Omar Assad suffered a fatal heart attack at a checkpoint in the West Bank after being arrested, bound and gagged by Netzah Yehuda soldiers.

The army said at the time that Assad’s death was a “moral failure”, but the unit is still active and currently deployed in Gaza.

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