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Police in Israeli Accuse Arab Lawmaker of Helping Palestinian Suspect Flee

Israeli police accuse an Arab lawmaker of helping a suspect flee in East Jerusalem. In response, Ahmad Tibi’s Joint List party accused police of “provocation” in sending officers to a church where relatives of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh were gathering. 

According to police, officers apprehended on Thursday a Palestinian man suspected of hurling a “suspicious object.” Moments later, according to footage from the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Tibi approaches the officers, starts arguing with them and appears to have shielded the Palestinian suspect from them.

The suspect can be seen fleeing while Tibi argues with the cops, but was caught shortly after. 

According to Tibi, the man managed to escape a second time. He shared a video showing the suspect fleeing when the lawmaker wasn’t near. The suspect was eventually detained. 

Police said they condemn Tibi’s conduct and accuse him of abusing his parliamentary immunity: “Disturbing police activity is wrong, especially when it is done by a public official who is supposed to set an example.” 

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said that Tibi’s behavior is unacceptable and that if he has complaints about police conduct “he can come directly to me.”

The Joint List party said in response that police presence near the church was provocative and blamed them for trying to beat and arrest youth who were offering condolences to the grieving family.

Police summon journalist’s brother

Earlier on Thursday, police summoned Abu Akleh‘s brother and asked him to disperse his sister’s funeral procession if rioting ensued.

The police “wanted to hear about the funeral arrangements and warned against flags and slogans,” Tibi, who accompanied Abu Akleh to the station, said. “As if anyone could control this. We aren’t talking about the funeral of a journalist who got run over.”

Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral is expected later on Friday in Jerusalem. The procession will begin at 2 P.M. in St. Joseph hospital in Shiekh Jarrah, in the city’s east, followed by a march through the Old City’s Jaffa Gate and on to the Roman Catholic Church in the Christian Quarter, where the funeral will take place. She will then be laid to rest at the Greek Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion. 

During a police operation Thursday in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem, a young man, suspected of violating public order and vandalizing an Israeli flag, was detained for questioning, Hebrew-language channel N12 reported.

“This afternoon, the police detained a young man after a suspicion arose that he had thrown a suspicious object out of his hands,” Israel Police stated, adding that the incident is being investigated.

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However, Arab Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi arrived at the scene and interfered with the procedure, thus providing the suspect with an opportunity to flee, the report said.

As a lawmaker, Tibi enjoys parliamentary immunity.

A police source told the N12  that “ any abuse of immunity by elected officials is taken seriously” and that “interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties, thwarting a detention or arrest, is a serious act that must not be tolerated.”

‘Any other citizen, if he had not been a Knesset member, would have been arrested this afternoon and handcuffed for questioning after doing what MK Tibi did,” the source said.

The police were struggling to maintain order in eastern Jerusalem Wednesday, where there have been riots, stone-throwing and other forms of violence against officers.

The Joint List said in a statement that “the presence of police officers near the church was a provocative presence. They tried to beat young people and make false arrests of young people in the church while mourning,” referring to the shooting death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday.

The Palestinians immediately blamed the IDF for the shooting in Jenin, although there is reason to suspect that it was a Palestinian, rather than an IDF soldier, who fired the shot. The Palestinian Authority is refusing to cooperate in an investigation with the Israelis.

Ta’al’s leader MK Ahmad Tibi confronted the Israel Police on Thursday while the officers were attempting to arrest a suspect during a riot in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in Jerusalem.Tibi extricated the rioter from the police officer’s grab, and as a result, the suspect managed to escape. However, he was later apprehended and was taken for questioning.

Israel Police said in response: “The elected public figure abused his immunity and we consider this a serious and a severe act against law enforcement. Interfering with police activity is wrongdoing, especially when it is carried out by a public official who is supposed to set a good example to the public.”

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