The two police officers who were confronted near the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem were not in uniform, but wearing civilian clothes, according to Yedioth Achronoth, the Jerusalem Post and other media outlets. This may explain why one received a face full of pepper spray on Tuesday. The Merkaz HaRav yeshiva issued a press release stating that the five minors in question were not affiliated with the yeshiva. The five saw the plainclothes detectives speaking to each other in Arabic either next to or near the yeshiva and spoke with them briefly before one went inside and came back out with a canister of pepper spray. That individual, identified as a 16-year-old, is being accused of assault after he sprayed one of the officers. Media reports said that the detectives were near the yeshiva "on an operational activity".
The incident was initially reported at about 12:00noon on Tuesday. It is not yet known whether the incident was related in any way to the terrorist stabbing murder that took place the same morning at the Tapuach junction,
In March of 2008, eight yeshiva students were shot and killed at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva by an Arab Israeli terrorist who worked as a delivery man.