Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 10:26 UK

Israel rejects police abuse probe


Israel will not investigate abuse

Israeli border police officers who were filmed apparently abusing Palestinian civilians will not face charges, an Israeli state prosecutor has ruled.

An appeal calling for an investigation was rejected and the police's actions dismissed as "only light blows", said human rights group, Yesh Din.

The three videos show Palestinian civilians being struck, grabbed and humiliated by uniformed officers.

The incident allegedly took place in East Jerusalem in 2008.

Israeli police have refused to comment on the ruling.

'Wink of consent'

The Yesh Din group was set up in 2006 to provide legal assistance to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

It described the ruling a shocking decision:

"This shows a reality where soldiers feel that it is permissible to harass and beat civilians. Criminal law forbids assault.

"It is a wrong and dangerous wink of consent."

The group quoted Israeli Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan as justifying the officers' actions within the law: "They were light blows that do not cause real damage, are not illegal."

It is not clear how the footage was made public, but reports suggest it was recorded on a mobile phone that was then lost.

In one of the videos, an Israeli officer is seen hitting a young Palestinian man, then striking him on the back of the neck - an action that is culturally an insult.

The officer then dishevels the man's clothes and knees him in the backside.

In another video, a Palestinian is made to salute the officer before being released.

The Israeli Department for the Investigation of Police Officers had announced in January 2009 that it was not going to seek prosecution against the officers. The latest ruling was a rejection of Yesh Din's appeal against that decision.

The human rights group said it would consider further legal means to challenge the decision.

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