Can You Show Kids How to Kill an Assailant? Israeli Mayor Says No, Police Say Yes

Ramat Hasharon council head Avi Gruber says police commander called him to apologize for Monday's incident, which showed fifth-graders how to confirm a kill, but police say he’s lying

Israel Police teach fifth-graders how to ensure an assailant is killed.
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An Israeli mayor slammed the police for showing fifth-graders how to verify that an assailant is dead during a police-community relations day in a Tel Aviv suburb on Monday.

Given the precedent of Sgt. Elor Azaria – the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing an already subdued Palestinian assailant in March 2016 – the demonstration was completely inappropriate, Ramat Hasharon Mayor Avi Gruber said on Tuesday.

Ramat Hasharon Mayor Avi Gruber.
David Bachar

“A terrorist or any other person lying on the ground should not be shot,” said Gruber. “The [police] demonstration was inappropriate and improper, and will not recur.” The police should not be showing situations of shooting people who are lying on the ground, he added.

The police stated that the activity had taken place during a police-community relations day in the city at the request of, and in coordination with, the local pedagogical team and school management.

Gruber said he thought the police would be showing the children routine activities, not the content they demonstrated.

The commander of the Glilot police station, which is responsible for the Ramat Hasharon district, later called Gruber to apologize for the incident, the mayor said.

“The commander of the police called me and said, ‘Avi, that was inappropriate and shouldn’t have happened,’” Gruber said. “He called me personally and told me, ‘That demonstration was unsuitable. We will make sure it doesn’t happen again and will find appropriate material.’”

But senior police sources said the mayor was lying about his conversation with the police commander.

Other councillors also weighed in. “That material was not suitable for fifth-graders, or anybody,” said Idan Lamdan, a rep of the left-wing Meretz party on Ramat Hasharon city council, and until recently holder of the city’s education portfolio.

“What they showed was how to verify the death of an assailant who has already been ‘neutralized.’ At the next city council meeting, I will demand an investigation into who checked what would be presented to the children, if it was checked at all, and who approved it, and how we guarantee that such content is never shown again to schoolchildren in Ramat Hasharon.”

“Did somebody lose their mind?” asked the father of a third-grade girl, who also witnessed the police demonstration. “This was the epitome of stupidity, this demonstration. Couldn’t they have brought a traffic cop to demonstrate how he gives tickets? They have to show how to fire off a magazine?”

The father said that in addition to being unsuitable for the age group, the message being sent to the children was wrong. “That’s a message of security? That is a message of protecting the community, the way it should be? What it achieved was mainly to frighten the children.”

Earlier, the police commented that they found it “regrettable that some people choose to present a positive, empowering event connecting the police and the community, where children learn about good citizenship and the roles of the police in society. Everything was in coordination with and at the behest of the educational team and school management.”