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Israeli police taser attack on Palestinian caught on video

TEL AVIV – A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem has filed a complaint of police misconduct after an officer shocked him six times with an electric taser gun at a water park in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

He was handcuffed on the ground during the tasering, and his wife and five children were unfortunate onlookers. The whole incident was caught on video and has been making the rounds in the Israeli media.

It marks yet another example of high-profile violence by Israelis against Palestinians that has consumed media headlines here recently.

The incident
The Palestinian, Talal al-Sayyad, a 42-year-old receptionist at Al-Maqased Hospital in East Jerusalem, was at the water park celebrating the Id-al- Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan with his family.

The incident unfolded after the Tel Aviv police were called to the water park to control a brawl between two East Jerusalem families. The police used pepper spray to control one of the alleged participants in the fight. Sayyad, who was not involved in the brawl, attracted the officers’ attention because he approached them, with his 3-year-old son in his arms, to ask them to stop using the pepper spray so liberally.

Sayyad explained to NBC News in a phone interview what happened. “I said, ‘Please you scared my children, this young man had no involvement in the incident.’ The police officer raised the gun to my face and ordered me not to interfere,” Sayyad said.  

Israelis fret over ‘lynching’ of Palestinian   

At that point, he said he put his son on the ground and tried to explain to the police that the original fight was over and resolved. But that’s when the trouble really started. 

“He shot me with the electric gun. Even after I fell to the ground he shot me more and more,” said Sayyad. “They handcuffed me and every time I asked them not to shoot – because it was extremely painful – they shot me over and again repeatedly."

The graphic video above, shot by a witness, shows him being tasered repeatedly – even while a crowd of onlookers yell at the police officers to stop. One onlooker shouted, “Stop! You’re killing him!”

After the incident, Sayyad was taken for questioning by police from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The police accused him of attacking a police officer.

During questioning at the police station, a friend of Sayyad's brought the video of the incident to prove his innocence against the officers’ claim.

According to Sayyad, the interrogator responded to the video by saying, "I am sure you did not attack the police officer, but you were an obstacle to their operation.”

When NBC News reached out to the Tel Aviv police for comment, Mickey Rosenfeld, the police spokesperson said that the suspect attacked a police officer and that the video released was only a portion of the full incident. He added that the police action was justified because Sayyad presented a threat.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz report on the incident included a slightly longer statement from the police: 

The Tel Aviv police said the film "was edited in a manner that does not reflect the complete picture. There was a massive brawl between two families from East Jerusalem, and several of the participants were wounded and had to be evacuated to receive treatment. Police officers who arrived at the scene were forced to separate the fighting sides and confront a crowd that incited all present to riot and impede the officers' work. The man in the film attacked the policeman and interfered with him in the line of duty. A Taser was used in order to control him."

Pattern of violence?
Sayyad’s incident was actually the third high-profile example of violence by Israelis directed at Palestinians in the last week.

A mob of dozens of Israeli Jews beat a 17-year-old Palestinian Arab until he was unconscious in the wee hours of Aug 17. The youth ended up in a coma for two days after the incident. Although there were hundreds of bystanders, reportedly nobody intervened to stop the beating, and that led to soul-searching by Israeli Jews. 

In another incident in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, three Palestinian East Jerusalem residents were attacked on their way back from a Tel Aviv beach as they stopped at a parking lot to ask for directions. One man suffered a head injury and required eight stitches and the other sustained light injuries. The assailants also damaged the victims' car. The victims say they contacted the police, but no officers were sent to the scene.

The recent violence has left many wondering if the incidents signal a larger trend.

The results of a survey conducted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Macro Center for Political Economics last year on young people in Israel seems to confirm fears that animosity among Israeli youth toward Palestinians is hardening.  

According to the study, 28 percent of Jewish Israelis ages 15 to 18 said the word “hatred” best expressed their feelings toward Arabs.  In addition, 72 percent said they definitely would not want Arab citizens of Israel living in their neighborhood, and 77 percent said they would be unwilling to invite an Arab to their homes.  

For Sayyad’s part, he is still suffering from injuries as a result of the tasering. But he believes the incident was part of a larger pattern of increased violence by Israelis against Arabs.  

 "Had I been Israeli, they wouldn't have done this to me. But when they heard me speaking in Arabic they used violence against me.”  

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