Police officer who threw stun grenade at protesters gets Independence Day award

Tel Aviv station selects Meir Suissa as its outstanding officer; officials say recognition unconnected to his controversial handling of anti-government demonstrators

A protester shouts at Israel Police officer Meir Suissa (left), who threw a stun grenade at a Tel Aviv rally, on March 9, 2023. (Carrie Keller Lynn/Times of Israel)
A protester shouts at Israel Police officer Meir Suissa (left), who threw a stun grenade at a Tel Aviv rally, on March 9, 2023. (Carrie Keller Lynn/Times of Israel)

A Tel Aviv police station on Thursday selected an officer who is under investigation for throwing stun grenades at anti-government protesters for an Independence Day award.

The officer, Meir Suisssa, was seen casually throwing a grenade into the center of a crowd of demonstrators during a March 1 protest. Several protesters were injured during the events, including one who required ear reconstruction.

Video of the incident drew widespread condemnation of Suissa and police tactics.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department has investigated the incident and questioned Suissa and five others for their handling of the protests.

The officers are suspected of throwing the stun grenades into crowds in a dangerous manner that is barred by police regulations, and causing injuries to demonstrators.

The Lev Tel Aviv Police Station in the center of the city chose Suissa as the station’s outstanding officer, and he was awarded with a certificate at a police event Thursday ahead of Independence Day next week.

Police officials said Suissa’s award was not related to his treatment of protesters, but to his work over the past year, according to Channel 12.

Suissa hurled the grenade into the crowd during massive “day of disruption” protests against the government’s judicial overhaul, and as National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir pushed police to respond to protests more aggressively.

Police’s use of stun grenades and water cannons against the protests on March 1 was seen as a significant ramping up of crowd dispersal tactics.

Some of the demonstrators had blocked a key traffic junction in Tel Aviv during the demonstration.

The officer told investigators that he used the stun grenade because the situation was “getting out of control.”

“There was an instruction that allowed the use of stun grenades. I threw two-three grenades and made sure I threw them in an open area. I saw that the grenade didn’t harm any demonstrator. I was calm. The goal was to complete the event without injuries,” he told investigators, the Ynet news site reported.

Ben Gvir later commended Suissa’s conduct and condemned the Police Internal Investigations Department for investigating the incident.

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