'Excessive, needless, life-threatening violence'

Police department to examine charges officers used excessive force to break up haredi anti-draft protest in Jerusalem.

David Rosenberg ,

Anti-draft protesters in Jerusalem
Anti-draft protesters in Jerusalem

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) blasted the police department over its handling of a haredi anti-draft demonstration Sunday evening, after activists accused police of using excessive force against protesters.

Hundreds of haredi demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem Sunday to protest a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a 2015 amendment to the draft law. The amendment, which was passed at the behest of the coalition government’s haredi partners, extended service deferments for haredi yeshiva students through 2023.

Demonstrators gathered in the predominantly haredi neighborhood of Meah Shearim in the capital to protest the court’s decision in a protest organized by the anti-Zionist Eda Haharedit organization.

Activists claim protesters suffered from police brutality as officers broke up the demonstration, drawing condemnations from religious MKs.

“I strongly condemn the terrible violence used against the haredi demonstrators in Jerusalem,” said Litzman. “This was an excessive use of force that endangered life and is totally unacceptable. The police must rein in this kind of behavior immediately.”

Shas MK Michael Malchieli accused the police officers of being “brutally violent” during the demonstration.

“Maintaining order in the public sphere is very important. But there is a difference between that and being brutally violent towards people who, according to the video that was recorded, did nothing. This is an absolute scandal.”

Temple Mount activist and MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) also condemned the officers’ behavior.

“A violent police [department] is a weak police [department].” Whether the violence is employed against “Arabs, the disabled, Ethiopians, settlers, or haredim – violence is violence.”

A police spokesperson responded by saying the department will investigate charges of excessive force.