Police Stun Grenade Injures 9-year-old in ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem Neighborhood

Tensions high as Israeli police disrupt prayer gatherings that violate coronavirus regulations

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Eight-year-old Sara Zissel Margoliot was injured by a stun grenade in Meah Shaarim, April 17, 2020.
Eight-year-old Sara Zissel Margoliot was injured by a stun grenade in Meah Shaarim, April 17, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwingberger
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

A nine-year-old girl was injured by a stun grenade thrown by police during clashes with residents of an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood on Thursday night, after authorities attempted to disperse a prayer gathering that violated coronavirus restrictions.

Twelve people were arrested and three police officers were injured during the incident in Mea She'arim, which included residents throwing stones, eggs, and glass objects at police.

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Several police officers barricaded themselves inside a synagogue and stun grenades were thrown to clear an exit path. One of the grenades exploded on the ground near a group of young girls, burning the face of nine-year-old Sara Zissel Margoliot. She was taken to Hadassah University Hospital, Mt. Scopus in stable condition.

Another woman with an infant in a baby carriage were also present when the grenade went off. Locals claim that another girl was injured by the stun grenade. A policewoman injured in the clashes was also taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded on his Facebook page, saying, "I see and hear many attacks and condemnations regarding the injury of the dear girl Zissi Margoliot from a police stun grenade. It hurts me and I am deeply sorry for the injury to her and have ordered an immediate inquiry into this rare incident." Erdan added that "the inquiry already exists."

A police source told Haaretz that security footage that documented the incident shows that the stun grenade was not thrown toward the girl, but rather rebounded. “This incident was as difficult as wartime," the source added. "The forces were attacked from all directions and used stun grenades to extract themselves from the site. No one aimed for the girl."

Police in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood, April 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Police have been working to disperse gatherings in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods by individuals who refuse to abide by the government’s coronavirus regulations, which do not allow a minyan (prayer quorum) or mikveh (ritual bath), in order to minimize contagion.

Tensions between police and ultra-Orthodox residents have risen to the point that the clashes are almost daily.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman spoke out against the incident, saying: “Attacking soldiers is a grave act that is against the law and Jewish law, and it must be emphatically condemned. However, we must prevent police unruliness, use of excessive force and the use of stun grenades inside a crowded neighborhood, full of small children, which endangers human life, creates hatred and destroys public order.”

A police statement said ”dozens of rioters took part, throwing stones, iron rods, eggs and anything they could get their hands on at the police” and that officers did not see “the mother and the girl in the eye of the storm.” The police later added that the officers had felt their lives were in danger.

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