Kan pulls all episodes of police docudrama after gun-planting incident

Decision by public broadcaster comes as production company behind ‘Jerusalem District’ says 3 more scenes were apparently staged

The logo for Kan docudrama TV series 'Jerusalem District.' (Screenshot: YouTube)
The logo for Kan docudrama TV series 'Jerusalem District.' (Screenshot: YouTube)

The Kan public broadcaster on Wednesday took down all episodes of a docudrama series on Jerusalem’s police force after it emerged that officers planted a gun at an East Jerusalem man’s home.

During filming of an episode of “Jerusalem District,” police put a rifle in the home of Samer Sleiman, a resident of the neighborhood of Issawiya, making it appear as though they found the gun there.

After the November 2018 incident was revealed Tuesday by the Haaretz daily, police issued an apology and Kan removed the episode from its online platforms. Sleiman filed a formal police complaint Wednesday.

As of Wednesday evening, all of the episodes of “Jerusalem District” were no longer available on Kan’s website or YouTube channel. Reruns of the show will no longer be aired on Kan and the series will no longer be accessible on demand.

“Since the initial complaint against [the production company] Koda and the police, Kan has opened a thorough inquiry with the production company and will examine the operating methods and editing of the series,” Kan said in a statement.

Kan said it viewed the incident “gravely” and that it ran against the ethics agreement it had signed with Koda.

“Until the end of the inquiry, it has been decided to take down all episodes of the series,” Kan said.

It added that it would hold an “urgent” meeting on the issue.

The decision to take down the episodes came as Koda said it was looking into three more of the series’ 145 scenes in which the uncovering of evidence appeared to have been staged.

In a letter to Kan quoted by Hebrew media, Koda insisted beside the two directors of the episode who were on hand for the filming, no one at the company was aware the gun had been planted. It said one of the directors no longer works at the company and the other will be summoned for a hearing when he returns from a trip overseas.

Koda also said that apparently due to the disclosure at the end of the program that some scenes were reenacted, “the two aforementioned directors did not understand that there was fault with the directing and the way it was done, especially in light of the extensive blurring of the house and its occupants.”

Earlier Wednesday, Haaretz reported that Sleiman received a threatening call from a man identifying himself as a police officer warning him not to speak to the media about the incident.

Samer Sleiman, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, arrives at the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department in Jerusalem on August 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

According to the newspaper, police officials claimed that the idea of planting a weapon was raised by a member of the show’s production crew after officers failed to find a weapon when they searched the house. This suggestion was then approved by the senior policeman present.

Sleiman has complained that after the ninth episode was aired on June 23, neighbors and friends recognized his voice and house despite his face being blurred. He is now afraid that some will think he is a criminal or suspect him of cooperating with Israeli authorities since he hasn’t been charged or even questioned over the gun ostensibly found in his home.

Police apologized Tuesday “for any harm caused to the civilian as a result of the segment’s airing” and added that the case is being probed and that conclusions would be drawn as necessary.

Most Popular
read more: