Israel Police fires officer filmed beating Arab truck driver

The Israel Police fired an officer who was filmed assaulting an Arab truck driver and a number of others in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem last month, police said Thursday.

Moshe Cohen, who was suspended in March after video of the incident emerged, will be dismissed from the police force within the next two weeks, spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

At a disciplinary hearing at the Israel Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem earlier this month, the officer — whose name has not been released — asked to be allowed to resign after expressing regret for his conduct.

However, due to “the severity of the incident,” Maj. Gen. Gila Gaziel, who heads the Israel Police’s Human Resources Department, decided to reject the officer’s request and instead ordered his dismissal, Samri said in a statement.

Birds-eye view of the Israel Police National Headquarters.

March 1 2013. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Footage of the incident showed Cohen, from the elite police reconnaissance unit Yasam, in a heated verbal exchange with the driver. The argument quickly turned violent as the officer headbutted the driver before repeatedly punching and kicking him.

At that point, several other Arab workers approached the pair in an effort to defuse the situation. “Get out of here, all of you,” the policeman shouted, pushing and kicking wildly at one of them. Toward the end of the video the officer could be seen striking the first driver again.

Throughout the one-and-a-half-minute clip, the policeman can be heard cursing loudly at the driver and those who defended him.

The police officer accused the driver of hitting his vehicle. “He didn’t give me a chance to speak.

I was afraid he would shoot me.

In the end he just told me ‘have a nice day,'” the driver, Mazen Shwieki, told Israel Radio last month.

The footage quickly generated a firestorm, with several Knesset members denouncing the actions of the officer.

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Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees the Israel Police, said the policeman’s behavior was “very grave and worthy of condemnation” in a post on his Twitter account last month.

In its statement Thursday, police said that “as was clarified immediately after the incident, this is an irregular and violent incident that is contrary to all the values of the Israel Police.

“This irregular incident is not only not in line with the values and commands of the police, but also damages the tens of thousands of policemen and -women who work day and night for the security of the citizens of the State of Israel with integrity and decency.”

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