An activist involved in the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police on Monday on suspicion of harassing a policeman, insulting a civil servant and violating his privacy.
In a Facebook post last month, Efrat Kalash accused the policeman of violent behavior and sexually assaulting a female demonstrator during protests outside the prime minister’s residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street.
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“Here is the adorable policeman who mercilessly beat demonstrators last Saturday night,” she wrote. “Avraham Kleiman, according to what was written on his Netanyahu police uniform. A father with two children. He isn’t embarrassed!!!”
A few days later, after seeing a promotional police video in which Kleiman appeared, Kalash took to Facebook, writing: “A violent policeman ought to be inside!!! Avraham Kleiman is a violent policeman. He beat civilians during the Balfour demonstrations, and he lifted one woman’s shirt. Many complaints are going to be filed against him at Mahash,” a Hebrew acronym for the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct.
The Kfar Sava police showed her both posts when they questioned her.
Kalash says she was summoned for questioning but was not informed why. “They said I’d find out everything at the interrogation," she said, adding that police told her she had been called in over her social media posts only after arguing with them.
Kleiman, she added, “is one of the policemen who were stationed at one of the barricades on Balfour Street on December 12. He was very violent there, and I heard a lot of testimony afterward. I wasn’t hit, because I was in a wheelchair.”
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Kalash says she was blocked from Facebook for three days, insisting that it's her right to criticize civil servants in light of her experiences with police in recent months.
“The police asked me what I had to say in my defense. I said he’s a violent policeman and it’s my right to criticize policemen’s behavior, and that this is a picture he posted in his profile. I used his picture, but I blurred his children’s faces. And I think I said that if he isn’t ashamed of what he did, why should he complain about my saying something against him?”
Kalash said she was asked “why I’m going after him personally if my complaints are about the police,” and she responded, “I remember his name. The activists exposed his name, and I put up the post with the name and his pictures so that activists would know. And that it’s my right to criticize him. Just as the police make public relations videos for themselves, I am allowed to criticize them.”
A police spokesman said, “Every complaint received by the police that raises suspicions that a crime was committed is thoroughly investigated and checked to uncover the truth.” Kalash was investigated because a complaint was filed, the statement continued, and when the investigation is finished, the case will be referred for a decision on whether to indict, as per standard practice.