On Friday, 9 October 2009, Firas al-Atrash, a resident of Tel Aviv, was at his parents' home in the Ras al-'Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem. At midday, when the prayers on the Temple Mount ended, al-Atrash heard loud noise outside and went to see what was happening. Outside, he saw journalists and policemen resting by the side of the road.
After a short while, at his father's request, he went back into the house to get water for the journalists. When he returned, he saw that the policemen had left.
Undercover policemen hold al-Atrash's father during the incident. Photo: Baz Ratner, Reuters
In his testimony to B'Tselem, he stated that he then saw a group of some six masked young men in civilian clothes holding stones. He asked them to go away, so as not to provoke a disturbance. In response, one of them pulled out a can of tear-gas and sprayed the gas directly into his eyes. At that point, al-Atrash realized that the men were Israeli undercover policemen.
The men then dragged him to an alley, where they threw him to the ground and beat him severely. Among other things, they hit him in the head with a stone and kicked him all over his body.
Policemen in uniform drag al-Atrash. Photo: Baz Ratner, Reuters.
Next, uniformed policemen dragged al-Atrash along the ground with his hands cuffed. As a result, his pants fell down and he remained in his underpants. The policemen put him in a jeep and continued to beat him. Eventually, they took him to the Jerusalem District Police Headquarters in the Russian Compound, where he was interrogated, while bleeding profusely, about having thrown stones.
It was not until the interrogation ended, two hours after his arrest, that the police took al-Atrash to hospital, where he remained until the next day. The doctors found that his hand and nose had been broken, and that he had suffered injury to his eyes from being sprayed with the gas. Following his release, he was taken to court. Signs of the beating were still clearly visible on his body, and the judge ordered that pictures be taken of him and that the file be forwarded to the Department for the Investigation of Police. Despite this, the judge ordered that he remain in detention for two days.
Two days later, al-Atrash was taken back to court to extend his detention. This time, the judge ordered his release, but the prosecution appealed the decision, and the District Court ordered that he remain detained for two more days. He was then interrogated by a member of the Israeli Security Agency, who asked him who had been throwing stones at the policemen while he was being beaten.
On 14 October, al-Atrash was released on bail. He is still suffering severe pain in his stomach. He received treatment for his eyes and is awaiting an operation on his broken nose.
The Department for the Investigation of Police informed B'Tselem that it had opened an investigation into the matter.