Israel Indicts Border Policeman for ‘Unprovoked’ Attack on ultra-Orthodox Man

The officer was allegedly filmed shoving the man to the ground for no apparent reason, but his lawyer says the video footage was edited to remove context

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Still from security camera footage of April, 2020 incident in which a man was shoved in Mea She’arim.
Still from security camera footage of April, 2020 incident in which a man was shoved in Mea She’arim.
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit filed an indictment in on Wednesday against a Border Police officer who was allegedly filmed forcefully shoving an ultra-Orthodox resident of Jerusalem in April for no apparent reason.

The officer, Meron Elia, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to the man, Dov Frankel. Elia’s lawyer said the video footage of the incident in the city's Mea She'arim neighborhood was edited and does not show the entire event. In the course of the investigation of the incident, Elia refused to admit that he was the policeman seen in the video.

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“It is regrettable that the policeman acted as he did, but since it happened, there is the consolation that it was decided to bring him to justice, as should have been done, “ Frankel said of the decision to charge Elia. “I very much hope that the filing of the indictment sends a message of deterrence, that police officers are not above the law and that they can’t attack citizens just like that, without any justification.”

According to the indictment filed with the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Elia, a Border Police team commander, went to Mea She’arim with other border police officers under his command because of demonstrations in the neighborhood against coronavirus health restrictions. They were on their way out of Mea She’arim when Frankel passed them. The indictment alleges that Frankel was pushed by a policeman whom the misconduct unit has not been able to identify, after which Elia ran towards him and “without any justification, pushed him forcefully with his arms outstretched towards [Frankel’s] upper body and sent him flying to the street over a distance of several meters.”

Frankel, who is a lawyer by profession, was lightly injured and alleges that the police at the scene failed to tend to him.

“I had just come from the home of my parents, who need assistance. My father is very sick, and it was my turn among his children to go to him,” Frankel said in April. “I saw the police and was not at all afraid of them. After passing several of them who had not talked to me, one of them yelled ‘run home’ to me, and I said ‘okay,’” Frankel recounted. “And even before I took a step, I was strongly pushed and found myself on the ground.”

Frankel said he was traumatized by the incident not only because he was pushed, but also because what he alleges was the apathy of the other police at the scene: “There was a commander there. There were other police officers. None of them thought to offer me a hand after I was knocked down, as if I were air.”

The police said in a statement in response to the incident: “This was abnormal conduct that is unacceptable and is in total violation of the norms of conduct expected of every police officer. The incident is under investigation and is being dealt with by the police misconduct unit, and appropriate steps will be taken against the police involved according to the results.”

Elia’s lawyer, Orit Hayon, called the decision to indict her client regrettable and said it had been motivated by extraneous considerations. “The police have been dealing and are dealing with increasing difficulty in doing their job of enforcement with the ultra-Orthodox population in the Mea She’arim area, most of whom haven’t been respecting the emergency [COVID-19] directives. Coronavirus patients throw sacks of urine that are full of germs on them. They cough and spit on them, and curse that they hope they die of the disease, refusing to go back home and even throw stones, sticks, Shabbat hotplates and bricks at any passerby.”

Hayon alleged that the video of the incident did not reflect the entire occurrence and the abuse directed at the officers who came to restore public order while risking their lives.