RAMALLAH, October 8 (JMCC) - A Palestinian family from Jaffa has said it will sue Israeli police for violently evicting them from a home in which they were squatting, reports the Jerusalem Post
The arrest of Samir Kassem, 34, was filmed by an activist hiding nearby. The video shows police violently detaining the man as he holds his distraught four-year-old daughter.
Kassem was initially charged with assault but was set free after the video was shown in court.
Kassem said his family has been homeless since May, when his mother, who used to help him with his expenses, died and he could no longer pay rent. He said that he, his wife, and their five children moved to the vacant house on Salameh Street about two weeks ago after someone set their tent on fire at Hashtayim Park.
He said his children were having trouble sleeping at the tent city, especially after it rained recently. Kassem’s sister had been living at the vacant house for a few weeks and invited him to stay there with his children he added.
According to Kassem, on Tuesday they were informed by police that they would arrive in the afternoon to evict them and he decided to begin packing their belongings in the meantime.
When police finally arrived, he said he decided to take his infant and hole up in the house, hoping that maybe police would relent and allow them to stay.
“At 2:30 p.m. they arrived to evict us and I didn’t know what to do – to evacuate or to stay – so I decided to take the little girl and not leave, hoping that they would give us more time. Then four or five police came in, didn’t say anything to me, just began hitting me from all directions.”
Kassem said that police opened a charge of assaulting a police officer against him and released him on Wednesday without charges after the video was presented to the court.
He said that the rest of the children were in school when the incident happened and have not viewed the video either. The four-year-old daughter who was present however, has been suffering from trauma ever since he added.