Police Officer Filmed Shoving ultra-Orthodox Teen to the Ground at Jerusalem Protest

Responding to allegations of assault, officer says he used force permitted by law during 'violent' riot, as police and ultra-Orthodox clashes escalate over Sukkot

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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An ultra-Orthodox boy in front of police officers as they attempted to enforce coronavirus restrictions over the Sukkot holiday, Jerusalem.
An ultra-Orthodox boy in front of police officers as they attempted to enforce coronavirus restrictions over the Sukkot holiday, Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

A senior Jerusalem police officer was questioned on Tuesday by the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct after he was filmed shoving an ultra-Orthodox teen to the ground during a demonstration in the city two days earlier.

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Shimi Marciano, commander of the Lev Habira police station, can be seen in the video throwing the youth at the sidewalk while running. He is also suspected of hitting him after he fell.

Marciano denied assault accusations and told the Justice Ministry investigators that "violent disturbances" occurred during the protest and he his use of force was legal. Investigators took testimonies from participants in the protest and other witnesses, including a journalist.

Marciano’s lawyer, Dov Gilad Cohen, said his client was summoned for questioning by Justice Ministry investigators “and provided his version of the events.”

Justice Ministry investigators also questioned a riot police officer on Tuesday who was filmed throwing a bucket at a 13-year-old in the ultra-Orthodox town of Betar Ilit. The policeman is also suspected of assaulting the boy.

A few days before the Sukkot holiday last week, Marciano held discussions with representatives of the various ultra-Orthodox communities in the area of Mea She’arim – Toldot Aharon, Toldos Avraham Yitzchak, Dushinsky and Slonim. They reached understandings that the community could carry on with their holiday routine, which includes mass events every evening – but would ensure that no documentation of the events is publicized, two Haredi sources told Haaretz.

These events have been held every evening by the Hasidic groups, while large numbers of police were deployed just tens of meters away, though they refrained from entering the buildings. So far, no filming of these mass holiday celebrations has been published.

However, the police said they arrested 13 people Sunday in the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak after riots broke out when officers attempted to disband prayers that violated the emergency coronavirus regulations, close down the Agudat Yisrael synagogue in the city and disperse hundreds of people who had gathered there.

An officer was filmed hitting a worshipper in the face during the confrontations. In spite of the police’s attempts to close the synagogue, it remained open. Later, a few hundred people gathered near the synagogue, danced and set garbage bins ablaze. Confrontations between police and Haredim developed on Sunday in Jerusalem as well.

As a result of the confrontations, Interior Minister Arye Dery spoke with acting police commissioner Motti Cohen. According to Dery, he warned Cohen that brutality from the police in ultra-Orthodox communities would lead to a “hostile atmosphere and damage adherence to [COVID-19] guidelines within the community, which are kept by vast majority.”

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