Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli policeman slams a man against a car in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, October 4, 2020.

Clashes and arrests continued overnight Monday in Jerusalem, as police had raided Haredi enclaves that defied the Health ministry’s regulations regarding social distancing during prayer and other holiday-related assemblies. By all accounts – other than that of the police spokesperson, this was more a vicious vendetta than anything having to do with enforcing law and order.

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Five people were detained for questioning on Thursday night after refusing to identify themselves in clashes between police forces and residents in the area of ​​the Shabbat Square intersection in Jerusalem. Local residents set fire to trash cans and shouted insults at police officers. The citizens were dealt with deftly as if they were the enemy.

Thirteen people were arrested Sunday night in Bnei Brak in clashes with police. According to the police, the clashes broke out during an attempt to close an Agudat Israel synagogue on Dessler Street in the city and disperse a crowd of hundreds. During the clashes, a policeman was recorded beating the face of a man who was in the middle of praying, quite pogrom-fashion.

Despite the police attempt to close down the synagogue, it remained open. Later, several hundred people gathered around the synagogue, danced, and lit trash cans. Two videos showed police beating up Chasidim for no apparent reason other than they were there.

A policeman was later documented slapping an innocent young man on the sidewalk as he tried to evade the crowd at the scene on his way and escape for home.

One of the videos documented the arrest of a demonstrator even though the other demonstrators around him were telling the cops he had special needs. During this arrest, a scooter driver passed by and pepper-sprayed one of the protesters, then fled the scene.

Brotherly love.

The Jerusalem festival of police brutality was commanded by Lt. Col. Shimi Marciano, commander of the Lev HaBira station, who was documented attacking demonstrators.

Clashes also broke out Thursday in Beitar Illit after police raided several synagogues that acted contrary to the health guidelines. Documentation from the scene shows a policeman throwing a bucket at a boy.

It’s something they teach at the academy – crowd control with buckets. Defenders of the maddened policeman said the boy threw the bucket at him first (he had been holding a piece of wood, and did not throw it). And now you understand law and order as it was practiced by Israel police on Sunday.

Police later announced that while dispersing dozens of protesters in that city, stones and other objects were thrown at police vehicles, and a suspect was arrested for throwing a cinderblock at the vehicles. It appears that when you treat a civilian population as if they are an Arab mob in the middle of an intifada – you receive the expected response.

The Department of Police Investigations has opened an investigation into the incident. If you’re holding your breath for the results, it’s probably a mistake. Breathe.

The mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, said in response to police violence near the Hassada synagogue: “It is very unfortunate that the police do not learn from past mistakes and carry out enforcement activities without coordination with municipal officials while using severe violence against congregants. I demand clear clarifications from the area command, and an immediate stop to this severe violence, while thoroughly investigating the behavior of the police in the area.”

Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri spoke with Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen and warned him that the harsh behavior of the police in all the Haredi enclaves would cause a difficult atmosphere and harm the observance of the guidelines by a public whose vast majority adhere to all guidelines.

Minister Deri informed the acting commissioner that until the police entered the streets of the Haredi neighborhoods, there was completely quiet and full observance of all instructions.

OK, so that’s very far from the truth, as has been demonstrated in countless videos. However, unleashing a torrent of violence on a religious community over failure to follow regulations is a frightening display of police utter lack of professionalism.

The acting commissioner, who really wants to be appointed commissioner and needs Interior Minister Deri’s support, pledged to the minister that he would investigate the matter in-depth and endeavor to deliver the message to the troops on the ground. Stop beating up Haredim.

Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism Knesset faction Chairman MK Yitzhak Pindros demanded that the government appoint a permanent commissioner who will come from outside the police (Sorry, Moti Cohen): “The top command of the Israel Police has forgotten that they’re facing citizens with equal rights and not enemies. Instead of acting sensibly and with a balance in enforcing the corona regulations, today the police acted with unbridled violence, the result of media incitement and moral decay at the top of the police command.”

Pindros said that “the police have a variety of ways to enforce the regulations, but they chose the easy way – to send troops to the streets of the Haredi cities to show presence. It is not the enforcement of regulations that interests the commanders who signed the order, but the rejection of media claims about the lack of police presence in the Haredi cities. If Israeli police officers have forgotten the basic values ​​of the police – to protect and serve, there is no solution other than the appointment of a permanent commissioner who will come from outside the police, from an organization with a civilian interface. One who knows that on the other side there are civilians with equal rights and not enemies.”

MK Yaakov Litzman said in response to the violent clashes that “the violent behavior we saw today towards the Haredim is a certificate of contempt for the police.”

Incidentally, “certificate of contempt” is just a figure of speech, they don’t actually hand those out. But you know something, maybe they should.

“People who are supposed to uphold law and order violate every public norm, harm the innocent and use violence against children and the weak,” Litzman continued. “I call on Homeland Security Minister Amir Ohana to eradicate this behavior from the police immediately.”

Immediately is probably a bit of a stretch. The much-needed police reform will probably take longer than that. How about never? The powers that be in Israel want their police force brutal and mindless, to be thrown into the battlefield against settlers, Arabs, Haredim, and leftists.

Litzman also condemned the media that raised hell about police brutality in front of the prime minister’s residence “but fell silent in the face of the groaning of the Haredim who were beaten mercilessly.”

Opposition MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) challenged the Haredi MKs and Ministers from UTJ and Shas, asking how they can look themselves in the mirror after they opposed Smotrich’s proposal to open a Knesset commission of inquiry into police violence against the Haredi community since the Coronavirus crisis began.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.