It's Saturday, 3 July 2010, 5:00 P.M. Israeli time. Millions of people around the world and in Israel have put everything aside to watch. Two giant soccer teams, Argentina and Germany, have just walked onto the pitch in Capetown, to battle for a place in the semi-finals of World Cup 2010.
The match has already begun, and four members of the Barakat family, from Beit Safafa in Jerusalem, are rushing home from Bethlehem to watch it. As they drive, the four - the father, Khaled, 57, his two sons, Raafat, 32, and Firas, 30, and their cousin Na'im, 39 - are listening to the match broadcast on the car radio. They cross the Walajah checkpoint, just south of Jerusalem, and continue on their way to the city.
It's now the third minute of the match and Muller heads the ball into the net. 1-0 in favor of Germany.
Raafat is driving. At the entrance to the city, a minute away from Jerusalem's major mall, they see a Traffic Police car parked on the road. As they approach, policeman orders Raafat to pull over. Raafat does so, and the policeman notices that Na'im, who is seated in the back, is not wearing a seatbelt. He asks him why, and Na'im explains that he took the belt off at the checkpoint to take his ID card out of his pocket and didn't put it back on. The policeman orders Raafat and Na'im to get out. Khaled, the father, says to him: “Please write out the ticket fast so we can get home in time to see the World Cup match between Argentina and Germany.” The policeman answers: “All right, I'll make you see a great match!”
The policeman gets into the police car and sits inside, checking Na'im's particulars. A policewoman is seated next to him. Na'im and Raafat stand by the police car. The policeman tells Na'im that he doesn't have any prior traffic violations. Raafat asks him to let Na'im go without giving him a ticket.
The first half of the match ends at 1-0, pretty even. The score gives no indication of what is yet to follow.
This is when, according to B'Tselem's investigation, the turning point occurs. The policeman, who apparently got angry at Raafat's request, says to him: “Ok, then I'll give only you a ticket.” Khaled, who is by now out of the car, tries to convince the policeman not to give his son a ticket. Raafat protests, but the policeman insists on writing out the ticket. Raafat says to him: “What, you want to show you're macho because a policewoman is sitting next to you?” The policeman gets out of the car and tells Raafat: “I'll show you who's the macho here!” He takes the cigarette from Raafat's mouth and squashes it. Then he takes the pack of cigarettes from Raafat's hand and stomps on it. Raafat says to him: “All right, give me the ticket, but it's just theft of my money.”
It's 68 minutes into the match and Klose scores a goal. Germany is now 2-0 over Argentina.
The father, Khaled, tries to save matters and asks his son to go back to their car. Raafat turns back to the car, but before he reaches it, he feels a burning sensation on the back of his neck. He turns around and manages to see the policeman spray pepper gas in his eyes. Raafat falls to the ground. Khaled asks the policeman why he did that. In response, the policeman sprays the gas into Khaled's face, and he falls to the ground too. Na'im moves away from the police car, sits down on the ground with his hands on his head, and hopes he won't get sprayed too. Firas, meanwhile, gets out of the car to see what is happening. The policeman sprays gas into his face, and he, too, falls to the ground. The policeman calls over the two-way radio: ”No need to hurry. I've got them under control. I knocked them down like flies.”
74 minutes into the match, 3-0. Friedrich, the defender, has scored his first goal as a member of Germany's national team.
The policeman beats Raafat, shouting: “Germany, son of a bitch!” Na'im, the only one whose face had not been sprayed with gas, sits a few meters from them. He sees Raafat lying with his face to the ground, shouting for help, and the policeman go over to him, kick him and swear at him, and hit him with a black club.
In the 89th minute, Klose scores again, 4-0. Germany has won.
The police officers handcuff Khaled, Raafat, and Firas and take them to the Moriah police station in Jerusalem. They order Na'im to drive the car there. The four are questioned at the station. Raafat later relates that the policeman who questioned him said to him: “You're like a gorilla. How do you want me to believe you when you say you didn't beat the traffic cop?”
Na'im and Khaled are released after several hours at the station. Firas and Raafat spend the night at the Russian Compound [Jerusalem Police District Headquarters] and miss the other quarter-final match played that day, between Spain and Paraguay.
The next morning, Raafat and Firas are brought to the Magistrate's Court. They are released around noon, without being charged with anything. Raafat is given a traffic ticket in the amount of NIS 250.
Germany lost to Spain in the semi-final.
On 22 July, B'Tselem was informed by the Department for the Investigation of Police that, following the organization's complaint, an investigation has been opened into the incident.
Noam Raz is the data coordinator in charge of complaints of police violence at B'Tselem.