Israel Police officers with drawn weapons demonstrated the shooting of a supine "assailant" in front of hundreds of fifth-graders during a police-community relations day on Monday.
The incident occurred as students and their parents watched demonstrations by rescue services and the police, one of them being taking over a terrorist, at Ramat Hasharon's city park.
A policeman warned the children that they will hear gunshots during the demonstrations, adding they shouldn’t be worried. Four policemen from a patrol and riot control unit arrived on motorbikes and opened fire in the direction of the "assailant," and continued on shooting him after he fell to the ground – in order to make sure he was dead, as the audience was told.
This wasn’t the first time that a police demonstration in front of children sparked public controversy. On Independence Day, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan invited visitors to a police open day at the Border Police memorial, where children could see police cars and bikes and learn about the police's work. They also had to watch assault dogs sicced on "suspects," a takeover of a hijacked bus and riot-control measures that police primarily use in demonstrations held by the Arab community.
Also on Independence Day, the Israeli army displayed a booth in a West Bank settlement where children could have their limbs painted to resemble shrapnel and stab wounds. The display included dummies used in the army to illustrate battle wounds, including one that looked like a pair of amputated legs.
עשרות אלפי אזרחים ביקרו היום בבסיס הפתוח של המשרד לבטחון הפנים ומשטרת ישראל ונהנו מתצוגת יכולות מרשימה. גם הילדים שלי נהנו. צפו. pic.twitter.com/RhB4Tmde0u— גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) May 2, 2017
"Has someone there lost his mind? It's simply stupidity for its own sake, this demonstration of fire. Can't you bring a traffic cop to demonstrate how he gives a ticket to an offender - they have to see how to dismantle magazines?" a father of a third-grader who was present during the police activity in Ramat Hasharon said to Haaretz. "It looks too violent, it's not suitable for that age group, and in general - does it convey a message of security? Is it a message of safeguarding the community, which this day was meant to be? It mainly scares the children," he added.
Ramat Hasharon Mayor Avi Gruber told Haaretz that "in light of the Elor Azaria incident, it can't be that the Israel Police itself would show a situation in which a man is lying on the floor and is being shot this way." He was referring to the Israeli soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant a year ago and is appealing against his manslaughter conviction.
Gruber added that the local police chief had called him to apologize over the incident, saying that it was inappropriate and wouldn’t happen again.
The Israel police, meanwhile, responded by saying that "the Israel Police has maintained for many years close ties with the community, expressed in joint activity with the entire public, of all ages, including youth and school children.
"We regret that there are those who choose to present in a biased manner a positive and empowering event connecting the police and the community. An event at which children learn about good citizenship and the role of police in society."
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