Photo: Muhannad Anati, ACRI
ACRI and the The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice on November 22, 2021, demanding that cameras be installed in all police booths located at the entrance to Damascus Gate, that they operate at all hours to document occurrances on a regular basis, and save the recorded footage.
The police booths were established to provide protection for police officers stationed in sensitive high security sites. However, many testimonies and videos obtained by various organizations, indicate that in recent years they have turned into a "black hole" of sorts, down which police officers tend to lead Palestinian suspects and detainees, laying them on the ground below window height, and roughing them up – in severe violation of their rights as suspects, and to their dignity and bodies.
The petition maintains that the Old City is among the most photographed, documented, and supervised sites in Israel. Against this backdrop, the police decision not to erect cameras specifically in the booths, is gravely unacceptable and raises concerns regarding ulterior motives in view of the severely violent incidents that occur therein. Installing cameras in police booths would deter police officers from engaging in violent patterns of conduct, and curb the excessive and unacceptable use of force that takes place therein, undocumented and unsupervised; increasing transparency and perhaps even public trust in police work, which is typically sorely lacking in East Jerusalem.
Throughout the hearing on the petition, the court made it clear that it would not interfere with police discretion and order it where to install cameras, such that we withdrew the petition upon its recommendation.