Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cop at center of racial row: I'd like to tell Netanyahu what really happened

ynet It's been a month since the online video clip of an Israeli policeman seen beating an Israel Defense Forces soldier of Ethiopian descent shocked the entire country and aroused the anger of Israel's Ethiopian community, which took to the streets en masse to demonstrate against police brutality and discrimination. [ see original article]

While the soldier involved in the incident, Damas Pakada, became the hero of the Ethiopian community, was warmly embraced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and shared his side of the story with the public at length, Sergeant Major Y., the policeman, took the criticism and his dismissal from the police and chose to keep quiet – until now. The civil suit filed this past week by Pakada against the Israel Police, Y. and a third individual who was present when the incident occurred has broken the sergeant major's silence.

"He's of no interest to me, and I don't think he's acting according to his own free will," Y. says of Pakada. "In my opinion, he's been used and they're still using him. When I saw him with Bibi, I felt a sharp pang in my heart – because that's a guy who threw a punch at a policeman, who picked up a rock to throw at him. And how does it end? He gets his picture taken with the prime minister, at the prime minister's request, like he's getting a prize. I'd also like to meet with the prime minister and tell him what really happened there."[...]

On arriving at the scene, Y. says, he immediately blocked the road, ordered pedestrians to back away and called in reinforcements. "I remember getting a call from the report center to tell me the sappers were on the way." he recounts. "Meanwhile, civilians were coming out their homes and moving into the danger zone. I instructed my partner to use the loudspeaker to tell everyone to remain in their homes. Fortunately, everyone listened to me." [...]

"We positioned a patrol car about 150 meters from the bench, and it clearly formed a barrier that shouldn't be crossed. I saw him while I was walking down the street and, gesturing with my hands for him to back away, I shouted: There's a suspicious object here. But he continued to approach."

"Yes. 'Who the hell do you think you are? I'm walking through here because I need to get home. What do you want from me anyway?' He spoke to me in fluent Hebrew and in a very unpleasant tone. He clearly understood me. Nevertheless, I explained things to him repeatedly, but he continued to approach."[...]

"I said to him: Just listen to me – and I grab hold of his bicycle to move him along. I don't think another policeman would have behaved like me, so politely. You can see in the video that I move the bike back a little, so that he would move too. And he resisted and tried to move forward and release my grip on the bike. I grabbed the bike, which stood as a buffer between us, and then he hit me on the neck. [....]

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