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Preliminary probe opened into police use of stun grenade that hurt 9-year-old

The Justice Ministry has opened an internal probe into an incident last week in which a 9-year-old girl was injured by a stun grenade thrown by police officers during clashes in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood.

The ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department will be “looking into” the incident before deciding on whether to open a full blown investigation, a spokesperson confirmed to The Times of Israel on Sunday.

Riots erupted Thursday night in the hardline ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, with protesters hurling objects at police forces as part of a demonstration against the ban on communal prayers and restrictions on use of mikveh ritual baths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The protest came after the government extended the closure rules in several mostly Haredi neighborhoods in the capital until April 19. It was not coordinated with authorities and did not adhere to Health Ministry guidelines on social distancing.

When police forces arrived to disperse the crowd, some demonstrators hurled rocks, metal rods, eggs and other objects at the cops.

Violence also erupted inside one of the local synagogues after police officers entered.

CCTV footage from a nearby street showed cops throwing a stun grenade, which hit a nine-year-old girl who hadn’t been involved in the riot, and exploded next to a stroller with a baby in it.

Police said in a statement that 12 people were arrested and that officers “did not notice the presence of the mother and child in the eye of the storm” while dispersing the rioters.

The police commander for northern Jerusalem, Brig. Gen. Ofer Shomer, told the Kan public broadcaster that officers had used “reasonable” force.

Three officers were injured during the riots, police said, with one requiring hospital treatment.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, however, issued a statement standing by the police force, which is under his office’s jurisdiction.

“We must remember that the State is sending Israeli policemen on life-saving missions, and I, as the minister in charge of the police, do not intend to abandon them when the criticism becomes a divisive incitement campaign,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Erdan’s office declined Sunday to comment on the Police Internal Investigations Department probe.