Israeli Cops Who Planted Gun in Palestinian's Home Yet to Be Investigated

Justice Department yet to decide on opening investigation into policemen who planted weapon during filming of a documentary series

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Police officers Assaf Ovadia and Erez Hazan who are allegedly responsible for planting a gun in an East Jerusalem home while filming a reality television show.
Police officers Assaf Ovadia and Erez Hazan who are allegedly responsible for planting a gun in an East Jerusalem home while filming a reality television show.Credit: Screengrab from Israel police Youtube account

The Justice Ministry has yet to decide whether to open an investigation into the policemen who planted a gun in an East Jerusalem home while filming a reality television show about the police’s Jerusalem District.

Samer Sleiman has filed a complaint against the two policemen who allegedly planted the gun in the cellar of his Isawiyah neighborhood home for the series. Officers Assaf Ovadia and Erez Hazan have not been questioned about their involvement, and both remain on the job. Isawiyah residents told Haaretz that neither Ovadia nor Hazan have been seen in the neighborhood since the incident came to light.

>> By planting gun for reality TV, Israeli police reveal truth about East Jerusalem | Analysis ■ Why Israeli police are terrorizing this Palestinian village | Gideon Levy

The police have opened an internal probe into the planting of the gun, the officers' conduct in the field and those responsible for the television series. “We regret any harm the series has caused to anyone,” an Israel Police statement said. “Aside from that, until we have completed the inquiry and looked into all the allegations, we will not comment on the substance of the incidents."

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

The Israel Police's legal advisors and communications department were involved in filming the show, and the Justice Ministry's Department for Internal Investigations, which probes police misconduct, is looking into whether these departments need to be investigated as well. It is not yet clear who in the police was aware of the conduct of the officers in the field during filming, or what their relationship with members of Koda Communications, the series' production company, was.

In a letter sent Monday to the Kan broadcasting company, which aired "Jerusalem District" and canceled it following the Haaretz report, Koda claimed that Sleiman was responsible for what befell him, as he chose to reveal his identity.

The company's attorney, Ronen Horovitz, wrote that it is inconceivable to the broadcaster "that the day will come and the same character whose identity is hidden will reveal himself, for this or any reason, and chose to deliberately and proactively associate himself with this staged scene." Especially, he continued, "at a time when he is functionally holding a police report saying that he is not connected with the staged event."

Horovitz opposed Kan's decision to cancel communications with Koda, and claimed that it was a hasty, populist decision. He claimed that the show's producers were aware of the staged scenes.

A police source says that Hazan and Ovadia have been having a difficult time since the controversy broke. “They see the public uproar and it affects them greatly. They’re trying to erase these people’s entire careers over a mistake they were completely unaware of and may not even have been responsible for. These are honest people who work day and night for the public’s safety, and you have to remember that, especially now," the source said.

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