The department for investigations of police officers at the
Justice Ministry plans to open an investigation against a
squad from a special police patrol unit (Yechidat Siyur
Merchavi) which burst into the Satmar beis medrash on
Rechov Yoel in Jerusalem and went on a rampage, breaking the
main door and beating congregants with rifles and clubs and
arresting several. Ranking police commanders at Jerusalem
Police are embarrassed over the incident and none are willing
to take responsibility. The Interior Security Minister has
already asked District Commander Ilan Franko to investigate
the incident as soon as possible.
The incident took place Tuesday night of Chol Hamoed when a
band of fringe elements ignited garbage bins at Kikar
HaShabbat after demonstrations over grave destruction in the
north. Police arrived at the scene on motorcycles and started
to pursue the youths who ran in the direction of Rechov Yoel.
Several passersby suspected by the policemen of involvement
in the arson incident were seen entering the Satmar beis
medrash and the police followed them into the
Breaking through the front door — which was not locked
— the policemen began to apply force against men in the
beis medrash who had no connection to the incident.
The event was documented by video camera from start to finish
and broadcast throughout the media, raising serious questions
regarding Jerusalem Police's apparent lack of respect for
botei knesses and other Jewish holy places.
Chareidi public figures decried the gall shown by the
policemen who entered the beis knesses during
tefillas Ma'ariv and began to beat congregants while
they were davening Ma'ariv, claiming in an official
statement the action was allegedly in reaction to injuries
sustained by five policemen and that "from inside the yeshiva
building hundreds of people hurled rocks, cinder blocks, iron
rods and benches at the policemen."
An inquiry conducted by MK Rabbi Meir Porush during Chol
Hamoed found that no policemen had been injured as claimed by
Jerusalem Police spokeswomen. Rabbi Porush tried to visit the
policeman who had supposedly suffered moderate injuries but
learned that no policemen had been admitted to the city's
hospitals. The policeman referred to had been released
minutes after his arrival without any certainty that the
injury to his leg took place during the incident.
Magen David Adom says its personnel did not evacuate a single
police officer from the scene. Jerusalem Police, long known
for unreliable reports on matters related to the chareidi
sector, say the announcement of the moderately injured
policeman reached the media by mistake. Yet despite media
reports the raid on the building was wholly unprovoked the
police did not change its version of the events. Police
commanders say the squad commander did not receive approval
from headquarters to break into the building.
On Monday ZAKA contacted Jerusalem District Police Commander
Ilan Franko to demand he look into why Haztoloh Mehiroh
volunteers were not allowed to administer first aid to the
injured. "Hatzoloh Mehiroh motor scooters were not permitted
to approach the beis medrash despite the cries for
help of the injured in need of treatment," ZAKA claims.
Several years ago a retired commander Ilan Amit was removed
from his post after his policemen burst into Beis Knesses Ohr
Hatzafon in the Neve Tzvi neighborhood during Shabbos
demonstrations on Bar-Ilan Road. The incident led to a public
furor and then Interior Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani
did not back Amit, who soon retired from the police force.
"Without a doubt Interior Security Minister Gidon Ezra must
put Commander Ilan Franko in his place and notify him he must
draw the appropriate personal conclusions from the grave
incident, the like of which has not taken place in Jerusalem
for many years," said a chareidi public figure.
At the behest of chareidi public figures, Minister Ezra
instructed the Jerusalem District Commander to conduct an
investigation and submit a written report within days.
Meanwhile the department for investigations of policemen
plans to open an investigation against the policemen involved
in the pogrom if complaints are filed by the victims. The
Knesset is expected to convene a special meeting to discuss
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said nowhere in the world would such an
incident be allowed to pass quietly. "It was the policemen
who ignited the fire there, with a completely flawed decision
by their commanders, and somebody will have to be held
accountable for this story. I am not in favor of violent
demonstrations. Every [action] must be done according to the
instructions of gedolei haTorah, who condemn violence.
But what took place here by the police and a few ruffians in
it crosses all boundaries of permissibility. Were such an
incident to take place elsewhere in the world it would draw
furious reactions in Israel. . . . in this case there was no
need for the police to enter the beis knesses, and the
pogrom that was committed there will be studied exhaustively
and we will not allow the system to let it go quietly."
The Knesset Interior Committee is slated to hold an in-depth
meeting to discuss the incident after MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
submitted a copy of the shocking video showing the pogrom
perpetrated by police to Committee Chairman MK Raleb
Majadele. "This cannot be lightly dismissed," said Rabbi
Gafni. "I hope those responsible for this criminal act will
be held accountable to the full extent of the law, including
reaching personal conclusions against all of the ranking
commanders who gave backing to the policemen from the patrol
unit and granted them permission to break into the beis