An ultra-Orthodox man allegedly beaten by police in Beit Shemesh last week, including a moment caught on camera in which a police officer dragged him by his left sidelock, said the experience was reminiscent of anti-Semitic violence against Jews in Europe “from many years ago.”
Speaking to Channel 13 on Tuesday, Mordechai Kreuzer said the way the officers treated him was “very painful and very scary — the contempt and humiliation — and it shocked my family when they heard about it afterwards.”
The video footage from the Friday protest in Beit Shemesh was published by the Haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat, and showed part of the violence Kreuzer described in the Tuesday interview.
In a statement earlier this week, police said the officer who pulled on Kreuzer’s sidelock has been suspended from his post while investigators look into the incident.
The officers who arrested Kreuzer said that he resisted arrest and attacked them.
“During the arrest, an officer was injured in the leg, causing a fracture,” police said in an initial statement.
But in the footage, Kreuzer does not appear to resist the officers at any point.
The incident occurred while police were accompanying municipal workers, who had been carrying out a demolition order in a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of the city. Clashes broke out between the police and protesters who opposed the demolition.
תיעוד מחריד: בלש המשטרה כמעט תולש את פאות העצור >>>הוא לא מתנגד למעצר, וכלל לא השתתף בהפגנה – מה שכמובן לא מנע מהשוטר למשוך לו באכזריות בפאות #משטרת_ישראל_2019 • שתפו – ונשים סוף לאלימות המשטרתית!
פורסם על ידי חדשות כיכר השבת ב- יום שני, 8 ביולי 2019
Kreuzer became involved in the altercation by accident, he said on Tuesday.
“There was a ruckus next to my building, I went down and stood there with a friend. He managed to run away before the cops came and grabbed me. They kicked me, hit me, and pushed me to the ground. After that, several more cops joined in — lots of slaps to the head and kicks to the rest of my body. I was dragged by them, and when we approached the street [where a police cruiser was parked], they stood me up, and started pulling with force on my sidelocks, and tore out part of my left sidelock.”
At least one cop told him, “You will die today,” Kreuzer said, as they pushed him into the cruiser and drove him to the Beit Shemesh police station.
Once Kreuzer had entered the cell, an officer shouted at him to face the wall, “and threatened that if I don’t do it he’ll slam me into the wall,” Kreuzer said. “He said I have to do anything he says, even if he tells me not to breathe, then I have to stop breathing.”
During the night, he added, when the Sabbath had already begun, officers decided to transfer him to the central Jerusalem jail in the city’s Russian Compound. He resisted, saying he could not ride in a vehicle on the Jewish day of rest. But they forced him into the car and took him to the jail.
Kreuzer has since been released, and has filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department.
Video from the scene appears to show a police officer approach Kreuzer, shove him into a minivan, and strike him in the face. The video was filmed from a distance and does not show what preceded the altercation.
זה לא אוטיסט או זקן עם רגל תותבת; 'כולה' אזרח מן השורה, חרדי, שספג מכות סתם כך ולאחר מכן נעצר בגין "תקיפת שוטר".
לכן בער בי לפרסם את זה. כל אזרח בישראל עלול ליפול קורבן לאלימות ולהתנכלות המשטרתית.
כמובן שבעקבות הפרסום ב'כיכר', המשטרה לא העזה לבקש את הארכת מעצרו. והיה זה שכרי pic.twitter.com/iLzFrhnC40
— חיים גולדברג (@haim_goldberg) July 7, 2019
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who has come under fire recently as police have been accused of brutality against Ethiopian-Israelis, called the incident appalling and said he approved of the officer’s suspension.
He wrote on Twitter: “I condemn all violence by police and the use of unnecessary force. We must conclude the investigation immediately and publish its findings and the punishment…as a message against violence by police.”
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, head of the Haredi political party Shas, said the incident “bordered on anti-Semitism.”
“The police must investigate how such an incident, which bordered on anti-Semitism, could have happened among its ranks, and it must deal with the incident and ensure such things don’t happen again,” Deri said.