Update: Further to the complaint filed by a-Sayed, the DIP opened a case file to look into the matter. In August 2013, the DIP informed B’Tselem that the handling of the case had not yet been completed.
On 23 August 2012, Haaretz reported that a policeman assaulted Talal a-Sayed, a resident of a-Tur in East Jerusalem with a Taser M-26. A-Sayed was a family visit to the Meymadion water park in Tel Aviv. The assault, which was partly documented by a bystander on video, occurred in front of a-Sayed’s family and other park visitors and continued even after he was handcuffed. A-Sayed subsequently lodged a complaint with the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP).
Testimonies collected by B’Tselem indicate that prior to the assault on a-Sayed, another young Palestinian resident of a-Tur was also assaulted with a Taser, as well as pepper spray. Here is an account:
On Tuesday, 21 August 2012, Talal a-Sayed, age 42, went with his wife and their five children to the Meymadion water park in Tel Aviv on a family outing for ‘Id al-Fitr. The family went on an organized group outing for a-Tur residents who traveled to Maymadion on several buses.
According to a-Sayed, around 11:00 AM, as he was walking around the park with his son, Zin a-Din, age three, he noticed a group of park security guards shouting at a group of Palestinian youths, demanding that they leave the park. He later found out that a group of a-Tur youths had gotten into an altercation with a group of youths from Silwan and that the security guards ordered some of them to leave the park.
From a-Sayed’s account to B’Tselem:
“I put my son down and went to the youths. I heard them telling the security guards that they had done nothing. I said to the youths: ’That’s enough, end this now.’ Then there was some mutual shoving between the youths and the security guards. One of the guards fell down and I helped him up. I pushed the young men back and told the guards: ‘This doesn’t have to be made into a problem.’ I turned again to the young men and told them that they had better wind up the matter now, before police were called. The atmosphere calmed down and it seemed that the trouble was over. The group of youths left the scene but remained in the park.”
When a-Sayed returned to his wife and children, he saw a few of the park security guards with two police officers. He says that the guards pointed to two young men. A-Sayed told B’Tselem that he did not know the two young men personally, but recognized them as a-Tur residents. Since he had not seen either of them at the previous altercation between the security guards and the young Arab youths, he intervened and told one of the police officers that the two youths were not involved in the previous incident. The officer ordered him not to interfere.
Video of the incident from anamnalquds.com website
In his testimony, a-Sayed said:
“The police officer insisted on arresting the two young men, although they said they did not know why and had not done anything. When I saw this, I told one of the police officers: “It’s a shame that you’re arresting people who have no connection to what happened.” The officer replied: ’Stay out of it.’ I understood that I would be better off not getting into a confrontation with the police and turned to go back to where my wife and children were sitting. But then I saw one of the police officers take out a Taser and taser one of the youths. The youth fell down and began screaming. The other police officer took out a pepper spray bottle and sprayed him in the face. My son, Zin a-Din, was shocked. He and some other children who were there, Arab and Jewish, began yelling and crying.
I told the police officer who had tasered the youth: “What are you doing? There are little kids here, look how shocked they are.” The officer pointed the Taser at me and said: ’Get out of here.’
I was still holding my son Zin a-Din in my arms. I put him down and said to the police officer who was pointing the Taser gun at me: “You want to attack me while I am holding my son in my arms? Are you nuts?” In reply, the officer tasered me.
A cord with two needles at the end of it came out of his Taser gun. The needles went into my right hip, sharp as a knife. I fell on the ground and began screaming from the pain. I heard my wife and children yelling and crying. When I tried to get up, the police officer gave me another electric shock. I fell down. It was very painful and I could hardly breathe.”
At that point, the second police officer approached a-Sayed and put metal handcuffs on him. The Taser needles were still in his body, meaning that he could be given another shock with a touch on the trigger. A-Sayed asked the officer who had tasered him if he would stop shocking him now that his hands were cuffed. However, as seen in the video clip filmed by a bystander and published in the Haaretz report, the officer shocked him again.
In the meantime more police officers arrived on the scene and took a-Sayed, Ahmad Abu al-Hawa, age 19, who was tasered before a-Sayed, and his friend, Ayub Abu al-Hawa, out of the park. The Taser needles were still inside a-Sayed’s body. He testified:
“The police officer with the Taser told me: ’Get on your knees.’ I said to him, ‘I will if you take the needles from your Taser out of my body.’ The officer shocked me again. I fell to the floor in a spasm and rolled around in the dirt. After I calmed down, I knelt and one of the police officers moved my handcuffs around behind my back. Another police officer began kicking the young guy next to me. He approached me and it looked as if he was going to kick me too, and then another police officer said to him: ’Watch out, someone is filming.’ The police officer stopped and did not assault me. Another police officer who had arrived on the scene asked the one who tasered me: ’Why didn’t you shoot him in the head?’ and he replied, ’Someone was filming.’
A-Sayed and the two young men were taken in a police car to the police station, all three of them barefoot. The two youths were wearing only swim trunks. The officers cut the cord connecting the Taser gun to the needles in a-Sayed’s body, but left the needles embedded in his flesh. At the police station, the needles were removed from a-Sayed’s body and he was given a medical examination. He relates that he felt nauseous and had trouble keeping his body still. He testified that the officer who was present at the incident in the park told him at the police station that if he needed treatment at a hospital he would have to pay for it himself. In reply a-Sayed told him that, in that case, he was not interested in receiving treatment.
After a few hours’ wait, the three were taken for questioning. In his testimony, a-Sayed related that during the interrogation, the officer who questioned him clarified that the officer who had tasered him was alleging that a-Sayed interfered with his work, assaulted him, and aided suspects in their attempt to flee from the police. A-Sayed, however, insisted that the officer was lying in order to justify having assaulted him.
Ahmad Abu al-Hawa, who was assaulted before a-Sayed with a Taser and with pepper spray, testified to B’Tselem about his interrogation by the police:
“The officer who questioned me told me to tell him about what happened at the park. I was surprised when he told me that there had been an altercation at the park between two groups of Arab youths. I did not participate in the altercation, did not hear about it and did not see it. Regardless, the officer told me that I was being charged with having participated in the altercation in the park. I denied it. After the questioning, the officer took me to another room where two officers were sitting. One of them said to me: “You people have no parks… you come to ours and cause trouble… you should be sent to Gaza.”
After their interrogation was completed and a friend of a-Sayed's signed a guarantee, the three were released. According to a-Sayed, “My wife told me that after my arrest, my children cried hysterically. Even now, with all of us at home, they are still in shock. At home we talk of nothing but the attack on me at Meymadion. I feel that the children see me differently since the incident. My image and dignity as a father are damaged. Before, they saw me as the strong father who protects and helps them; and now?”
A Sayed’s friend, ‘Abdallah ‘Awadallah, who also spent the day with his family at Meymadion on the day of the assault, told B’Tselem about the way the incident affected his children, who witnessed it: “That night, after the incident, my daughter, Tala, who is 11 years old, wet her bed for the first time since she was little. Tamara, age 10, refuses to go out of the house since the incident. The two girls become hysterical if they hear a police or ambulance siren, even if it’s on television.”
I tried to make it up to my children for the fun that was ruined, but they don’t want to go anywhere. They told me that they would rather stay with me at home, because they are afraid that someone will attack me like they did to Talal.”
Two days after the incident, a-Sayed and two of his friends who were eyewitnesses to the incident lodged a complaint with the DIP. The DIP updated B’Tselem that an investigation of the complaint had been opened. Ahmad Abu al-Hawa told B’Tselem that he, too, intends to lodge a complaint with the DIP.