Producer of Israeli Reality TV Show Apologizes for Planting Gun in Palestinian Home

Ram Landes, owner of Koda Productions, took responsibility and said the team 'got carried away' when planted an M-16 rifle in a East Jerusalem home during the filming of the show

Right: Samar Sleiman in his basement. Right: Screengrab from the scene in Jerusalem District
Emil Salman

The producer of an Israeli police docudrama apologized on Monday following a report by Haaretz that officers and the production planted an assault rifle in the home of an East Jerusalem Palestinian family in the course of the filming of the show.

The apology comes after Israel's public broadcaster Kan announced that the show has been removed from its online platforms. The production company, Koda Communications, said it plans to fight the broadcaster's decision.

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In a Facebook post, Ram Landes, the owner of Koda Productions, wrote in Hebrew that he "takes responsibility for the incident and apologizes "to the viewers and to those hurt by the show's production and its screening." Landes said in the post that the lesson he received is "changing the course of his life." He explained that they sought to tell the story of "humane, sensitive and tough" police officers in a "powerful and emotional manner" but "got carried away."

Samer Sleiman’s house in the village of Isawiyah was searched in November 2018, after which he was handed a document stating that nothing was found there. However, a few months later, Sleiman’s neighbors identified the house in an episode of a nine-part reality docudrama called Jerusalem District. The episode records a search for weapons, in the course of which a cellar is discovered, described by one of the series’ main characters as “a tunnel which would do credit to the ones found in Gaza.”

In this cellar, a M-16 rifle is found. The policemen are seen overjoyed at finding the gun, leaving the village satisfied with their work. However, Sleiman was never arrested or questioned about weapons ostensibly found in his possession. He is now worried that his neighbors will think he’s a criminal or a collaborator with the police or the security services.

Following the search, Sleiman was handed a document stating that nothing was found in his house and was never arrested or questioned about weapons ostensibly found in his possession.

The police later apologized for the incident, and said they will investigate the matter, while the producers said it would "draw conclusions."

On Sunday, Hadash lawmaker Ofer Cassif addressed Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and called for a criminal investigation of police officers who planted the weapon. "I ask you to look into the incident and further investigate the general scope of evidence-planting by the Israeli police," he wrote in a letter.   

Sleiman had also filed a complaint with the Police Investigations Department, a unit in the Justice Ministry in charge of probing police misconduct.