A Jerusalemite Palestinian is to sue Israel Police after they planted a weapon in his home in order to raid it for a TV documentary.
The house of Samer Sleiman, a Palestinian from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, was raided by Israel Police in November. After the raid, the police handed him a document stating that "nothing was found and no harm was done to anyone or anything" during the search.
However, Sleiman's house was subsequently featured in a docudrama screened by Israel's public broadcaster Kan called "Jerusalem District", during which Sleiman's cellar was raided and an M-16 rifle was found hidden in his cellar.
One of the series' main characters described the cellar as "a tunnel which would do credit to the ones found in Gaza," while others were "overjoyed at finding these guns, leaving the village satisfied with their work," Haaretz reported yesterday.
However, as the Israeli daily pointed out, "finding IDF-issue weapons in good condition in East Jerusalem neighborhoods is an unusual event, especially weapons that are not very well hidden". Now documents obtained by Haaretz have raised "strong suspicion" that the guns found in the episode were planted by the police themselves for the sake of the docudrama.
According to the Times of Israel, the police "did not inform [Sleiman] that the raid was staged as part of a TV series, and said the cameras were there to prevent complaints about property damage".
"He had been told the search was part of an intelligence operation," the Israeli daily added.
Sleiman claims that when the TV drama was aired at the end of June, neighbours and friends recognised his voice and house despite his face being blurred. His ordeal has now left him worried that he will be seen either as a criminal for housing firearms or as a collaborator with the Israeli authorities, since he hasn't been charged for the weapon the documentary claimed to have found in his home.
Sleiman on Sunday filed a lawsuit against Israel Police for the treatment they subjected him to. Sleiman's lawyer Itay Mack said of the lawsuit: "In one instant [Sleiman's family] became, in the eyes of the public, criminals and users and traffickers of illegal weapons. Additionally, since no legal proceedings were taken against them, claims began to circulate that they are cooperating with police."
"My clients fell victim to a racist propaganda show that has no place in a democratic country. It was staged by policemen and officers in the Jerusalem District, apparently with the purpose of promoting themselves and presenting my clients and all Isawiyah residents as security risks, while infringing on their privacy and slandering them," Mack added.
Israel Police have since apologised to Sleiman, saying in a statement that "we apologize for any harm done to the citizen as a result of the broadcast. The case is under investigation and the lessons learned will be derived accordingly."
Meanwhile Kan has said it is investigating the complaint with the production company, Koda Communications, and that if the "severe" allegations were found to have even a "sliver of truth", the matter would be dealt with accordingly.