MK Cassif Calls for Criminal Probe into Planting of Evidence by Police

Hadash MK Ofer Cassif addressed Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on Monday, August 12, and called for him to open a criminal investigation into the ostensible planting by police officers of an M16 assault rifle in the home of Samer Sleiman, a resident of the much-harassed Palestinian town of Isawiyah, incorporated as a neighborhood controlled by highly-militarized Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem.

The weapon linked to Sleiman’s home appears in an episode of a nine-part reality docudrama called Jerusalem District. The episode depicts a search for weapons in the course of which a cellar is discovered, described by one of the series’ main characters, an Israeli police official, as “a tunnel which would do credit to the ones found in Gaza.” In the  docudrama the police officers are overjoyed at finding the gun, and leave the site satisfied with their work.

The macho, militaristic logo of the reality docudrama Jerusalem District

The macho, militaristic logo of the reality docudrama Jerusalem District (TV footage)

Samer Sleiman’s neighbors identified his house in this episode of the program. In fact, Sleiman’s house was actually searched by Israeli police in November 2018, after which he was handed a document stating that nothing was found there; nor was he ever arrested or questioned about weapons ostensibly discovered in his possession. However, Sleiman is now worried that his neighbors will believe he is either a criminal or a collaborator with the Israeli occupation, its police or security services.

Accordingly, Sleiman filed a complaint with the Police Investigations Department (PID), a unit in the Justice Ministry in charge of probing police misconduct. The police later apologized for the incident, and said they will continue to investigate how and why a weapon unlinked to Sleiman found its way into his basement so that it could be filmed there and featured in an Israeli docudrama purporting to be realistically depicting the state’s fight against “Palestinian terrorism.”

MK Cassif has taken the specific case a stage higher, writing in his letter to the attorney general: “I ask you to look into the incident and further investigate the general scope of evidence-planting by the Israeli police.”

Like the police, the producer of Jerusalem District apologized, but only after Israel’s public broadcaster “Kan” announced on Monday, August 12, that the program has been removed from its online platforms.