Minister: Police are going to have to explain their behavior

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan promises investigation into claims of police brutality at haredi anti-draft rally in Jerusalem.

David Rosenberg ,

Police break up haredi demonstration in Jerusalem
Police break up haredi demonstration in Jerusalem

Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) reaffirmed Monday morning that officers accused of using excessive force while breaking up a haredi anti-draft demonstration Sunday will be investigated, following the release of video recordings of apparent acts of police violence during the protest.

On Sunday, hundreds of haredi anti-draft demonstrators gathered at a protest in the capital organized by the Eda Haharedit organization in response to a recent Supreme Court decision striking down changes to the draft law which extended deferments from army service for full-time yeshiva students through 2023.

Activists accused officers sent to break up the demonstration of police brutality, claiming that nonviolent protesters were assaulted.

After video footage of the police efforts to disperse protesters was released, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) slammed the officers for “excessive use of force”.

“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.”

Following the release of the videos, a police spokesperson said that officers suspected of violence or use of excessive force would be investigated by the Police Internal Investigations Department (Mahash).

On Monday, Erdan responded to the controversy, praising the police department for its decision to investigate officers involved in the incident.

“The video shows a loss of control [by police], use of unreasonable force. Unless the video has been completely altered, the officers involved will need to explain [their behavior] to the Police Internal Investigations Department.”

The police department acted appropriately yesterday by announcing on its own after the release of the videos that it was transferring the investigation of the [officers recorded in] the videos to the Police Internal Investigations Department.”