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Israeli policeman goes undercover as Palestinian woman

Baz Ratner / Reuters

An undercover Israeli policeman dressed as a Palestinian woman opens a car door after detaining a Palestinian protester during clashes in Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem on May 15. Israeli security forces had been on alert for violence on Sunday, the day Palestinians mourn the "Nakba", or catastrophe, of Israel's founding in a 1948 war, when hundreds of thousands of their brethren fled or were forced to leave their homes.

Photographer Baz Ratner today described the scene above, which he witnessed on Sunday:

During events held by Palestinians to mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on Sunday May 15 to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of some 700, 000 Palestinians from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948, I was covering a clash between Israeli security forces and Palestinian youths in the Shuafat refugee camp, a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem surrounded by the controversial Israeli barrier. Both sides were standing at a distance from each other when I arrived and the youths were throwing stones towards the police. The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and tear gas, a common occurrence during clashes.

After a few hours the police charged towards the protesters who were running away. I saw that part of the police were running down an alley. Due to my past experience in these types of situations I followed them sensing that something out of the ordinary may occur. When I reached a point in the alley I saw riot police surrounding a group of about ten masked men and a woman, all armed with pistols, detaining a few Palestinians. It was the second time that I witnessed undercover police detaining Palestinians but the first time I've ever seen an undercover policeman wearing woman's clothes. The 'woman' was pushed into the car and very quickly all of the undercover policemen were rushed into other civilian cars and the detained Palestinians were left to the riot police.

There are a few undercover police units who infiltrate Israeli-Arab and Palestinian communities by dressing up and acting as Palestinians. Knowing Arabic well and Arab customs, they use the surprise element to achieve arrests. Some Druze and Jewish and even some Arabs are experts in this field.

Baz Ratner / Reuters

In a separate incident, undercover Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian suspected of throwing stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya on May 15.

See more images on the Reuters blog.

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