A video circulating on social media appears to show an Israeli soldier kneeling on a Palestinian protester's neck while arresting him during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
The 65-year-old protester said he was not seriously injured and acknowledged shoving an Israeli soldier. The Israeli military said troops were “forced to apprehend” a suspect who had “repeatedly assaulted them.”
Palestinians and Israeli rights groups often accuse Israeli security forces of using excessive force to disperse Palestinian protests, in which demonstrators frequently throw stones or scuffle with troops.
Those confrontations have come under heightened scrutiny amid the recent protests over racial injustice in the United States, as some Palestinians have sought to link their cause to the Black Lives Matter movement. The U.S. protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody after a white officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes as he cried out that he couldn't breathe.
The video circulating Tuesday shows an Israeli soldier struggling to restrain Khairi Hannoun, a Palestinian protester, as other troops raise their rifles and call on a group of news photographers to back away. The soldier eventually wrestles Hannoun to the ground and then appears to kneel on his neck and back while putting him in handcuffs.
Hannoun said he was with dozens of demonstrators near the West Bank town of Tulkarem who were protesting Israeli plans to build an industrial park. Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 war and the Palestinians view it as the heartland of their future state.
Hannoun said he pushed a soldier who had aimed his rifle at the protesters, setting off the scuffle.
“The Israeli soldiers hit me hard and one of them pressed his knee against my neck for a few minutes,” he told The Associated Press. “I stayed still to avoid more pressure on my neck, but people pulled me out.”
Hannoun said he suffered bruising but no serious injuries.
The military said the commander “showed restraint” after the man had resisted arrest. It said the detainee was given medical care at the scene. He was later released.
“The videos on social media are partial, heavily edited and do not reflect the violent riot nor the violence against (Israeli) troops that happened prior to the apprehension,” the military said in a statement. It said the protesters had thrown stones and “assaulted” the soldiers.
It added that “the event will be looked into over the next days.”
Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed.
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