The police are investigating a video documenting a police officer throwing a bucket at a haredi boy in Beitar Illit. Immediately afterwards, the policeman wraps his hands around the boy’s head, and together with another policeman, he is led towards what appears to be the police car.
— חיים גולדברג (@haim_goldberg) October 4, 2020
The incident occurred outside of a synagogue, after police and special Yassam riot-control teams were dispatched to the scene to disperse a gathering of worshippers who were praying in a parking lot near the synagogue.
According to a statement released by police Sunday, dozens of worshippers were ordered to disperse, but some refused and, police claim, at least several people began hurling stones at the officers, causing damage to a police vehicle.
זה ילד, משטרת ישראל מאבדת את זה לגמרי pic.twitter.com/NbBhl1u3hx
— חיים גולדברג (@haim_goldberg) October 4, 2020
Two people suspected of throwing stones were detained for questioning.
In addition, police fined the operators of the synagogue and several worshippers who violated Health Ministry regulations.
During the incident, an officer from the Yassam team was filmed hurling a bucket at a boy, chasing him down, then putting his arm around the boy’s head and leading him off for questioning, on suspicion of throwing stones at the officers.
“While dispersing dozens of people who had gathered in Beitar Illit, stones and other objects were hurled at the security forces,” police said in a statement Sunday.
There was no indication in the statement whether one of those arrested was the boy who was detained after a bucket was thrown at him by an officer. Another footage from Beitar Illit, from different angle, showed a cop throwing the bucket at a boy, reportedly just 10 years old, before several officers seized him and put him in a police vehicle.
“A suspect was seen hurling a block at a police car and was arrested by the officers. That being said, we view the officer’s behavior with the utmost gravity, violating the values of the organization. Thus, the central district commander has ordered that the footage be reviewed by the Department for Internal Investigations.”
Shas MK Michael Malchieli blasted the police department’s handling of the incident.
“The footage coming out of Beitar Illit is hard to watch. From the images, you might think that this was a storming en masse by the Yassam officers capturing a suicide bomber carrying an explosive device. The time has come to reexamine the regulations. At the same time, I condemn the lawbreakers who used violence against the officers, who are working constantly during this period.”
Elsewhere, an ultra-Orthodox man who was filming the police was arrested, according to footage shared on Twitter.
צילמת – נעצרת. מטורף.
הוא לא תוקף שוטרים. כלום. בסך הכל עומד (עם מסכה) ומצלם. ואז נעצר. pic.twitter.com/gJJxPVJRpM
— בני רבינוביץ (@benirabin) October 4, 2020
In the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, police raided 11 synagogues Sunday that were operating against the rules, the Ynet news site reported.
Criticism of the ultra-Orthodox community has been growing in recent days, with reports showing a significant number are disregarding lockdown restrictions during the Sukkot holiday, including by continuing to host mass gatherings.
As police have stepped up enforcement there has been increasing anger in the ultra-Orthodox community, also known as Haredi.
Channel 13 reported that one of its film crews was assaulted by a mob of ultra-Orthodox men near the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. The two reporters were forced to escape on foot as the crowd smashed the windows of their car.
On Saturday there were similar fines and pushback from the ultra-Orthodox community in both the capital Jerusalem and the central city of Bnei Brak.
In Jerusalem, police met resistance from ultra-Orthodox locals while trying to enforce lockdown measures, with a video showing residents pelting a cruiser as it drove through Mea Shearim.
Police also raided a synagogue in Bnei Brak belonging to the Ponevezh Yeshiva, where at least two dozen people were praying inside against special pandemic regulations. The yeshiva is on a break but the synagogue was being used by a hardline religious group known as the Jerusalem Faction, according to reports.
One person, described as an administrator, was fined NIS 5,000, and an unspecified number of people gathered there were also hit with fines, the Hebrew-language reports said.
The ultra-Orthodox community has seen sky-high coronavirus infection rates with an assessment last week finding the rate of infection in the community is 2.5 times that of the national average.
Ministers have approved fines of NIS 500 ($145) for anyone caught with other people not from their household in another person’s sukkah, a temporary structure used by many Jews during the holiday of Sukkot. Israelis are also forbidden from hosting non-nuclear family members in their homes during the holiday, and from traveling more than a kilometer from their homes.
No more than 20 people are allowed in outdoor prayer groups, while indoor services are banned. Worshipers must wear masks and observe social distancing.
Police have faced additional challenges to the lockdown from anti-government protesters who have continued their rallies during the lockdown.
Statements from police on Saturday night had focused on the protests held around the country, including in Tel Aviv, where dozens were arrested and hundreds reported fined for what officers alleged was disturbing the peace, attacking police and not following virus rules.
Police were criticized over the weekend for what appeared to be lax enforcement of the same rules in ultra-Orthodox areas. However, some in the government, which is backed by the country’s two most powerful ultra-Orthodox political parties, have criticized the police for disproportionate enforcement of ultra-Orthodox while allowing anti-government protests.