Israel Justice Ministry Questions Police Officer Seen Choking Protester in Video

Among activists, senior officer Yossi Shperling has become a symbol of police brutality after was recorded assaulting a demonstrator unprovoked.

The police officer who was filmed apparently choking a protester during the social justice demonstration in Tel Aviv over a week ago was interrogated by the Internal Affairs Division.

Yossi Shperling, a senior officer serving in the operations division of the Tel Aviv district police, became a symbol of police brutality among the activists. Shperling was recorded in front of the Tel Aviv municipality building while he is allegedly choking, in a very violent manner, a female protester standing next to him.

Not long after the incident, activists began uploading the videos showing Shperling's assault to the internet. Seniorpolice officials joined the activists in condemning the video.

Last week, Maya Gorkin, 21, filed a complaint against Shperling with the Internal Affairs Division, under the Justice Ministry, for assault. The young woman gave the police her testimony, which led to the decision to start an investigation.

On Sunday, Shperling was summoned and answered the investigators questions for a few hours. 

Shperling claims Gorkin was calling him a "Nazi," and that this is what pushed him over the edge. Shperling presented his version to his superiors following the incident, however the police states that there is no justification for a senior officer to react in such a way, regardless of what Gorkin said.

In a statement given last week, Police Chief Yohanan Danino talked about the excessive violence used by the police. Danino did not mention Shperling by name, however he promised that any incident involving unnecessary police violence will be looked in to. 

"I'm not ignoring the photos in the newspapers and online, some of which are harsh. We are a body which knows who to receive to criticism. When required, it is transferred to the Internal Affairs Division."

Shperling's case was not transferred to internal affairs be the police department, but by Gorkin. The division confirmed a complaint was filed and that an investigation in underway. Tel Aviv district police refused to comment since it concerns an ongoing internal affairs investigation. 

The chairman of the National Students Union, Itzik Shmuli, a key figure in last summer's social protest, on Monday called an emergency meeting, to take place on Tuesday, with student union heads from all over the country to discuss joining the protests this Saturday night.

Shmuli called the meeting following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement that he was disbanding the Plesner committee, tasked with forging an alternative to the Tal Law regulating the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men to the army.

Shmuli released a statement that said: "The prime minister has decided to be consistent in not meeting his obligations to the public ­ first in the social sphere and now in the area of equality in bearing the burden. We remind Minister Mofaz and this is the reason he joined the government and demand that he keep his promise to the public that serves [in the army]."

Shmuli called on the members of the committee to persist and to clearly state its expert opinion.

Meanwhile, in Modi'in, social protesters who had planned to pitch tents in a city park last night discovered that the municipality had spread fertilizer at the site. The fertilizer was mixed with hundreds of small glass shards.

The protesters put up a few tents next to the piles of fertilizer.

The city said it had spread the material but that it knew nothing about the glass shards.

Gilad Bihari, a Modi'in activist, said: "It is regrettable that the city is using such 'stinking' ways of trying to choke off protest, but neither fertilizer nor glass will deter us."

Bihari said he had been summoned last Thursday to to the Modi'in police station where he was asked about protest plans.

The Modi'in activists had announced their intent to put up the tents in the park a few days ago. They said they had decided to renew their protest because of the violence with which the demonstrations were met this summer.

According to the activists, the fertilizer was spread on Monday or Sunday. The Modi'in municipality said the park was new and the fertilizer had been spread as part of its development, adding: "that is the reason the city offered the protesters another place for their activity."

Read this article in Hebrew