A senior police officer was charged with assault on Sunday for attacking two people at a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, three months after footage emerged of him shoving and smacking protesters outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.
Charges were filed against Chief Superintendent Niso Guetta following an investigation by the Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID) into the August 22 incident, which took place as protesters marched from the entrance of the capital to Balfour Street in the city center, where the Prime Minister’s Residence is located.
According to the incitement, as officers engaged with the protesters, Guetta attacked Avichai Michael Green, a demonstrator who had complained to him about police conduct, and Yalon Gurewitz, a photographer covering the protest.
“Green approached Guetta and complained to him about the behavior of the police towards the protesters at the scene. In response, the defendant forcefully struck the demonstrator with both hands in the face, twice,” the charge sheet read.
Minutes later, according to the indictment, Guetta also “forcefully struck” Gurewitz, as the photographer was following the police superintendent during the arrest of another protester.
סגן ניצב ניסו גוואטה (הזכור ממחוז ירושלים) מאבד את זה הערב בצעדה בדרך לבלפור. pic.twitter.com/kHTu2llPfm
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) August 22, 2020
In a widely distributed video clip of the event, Guetta can be seen shoving and smacking Green and then pushing people to the side, before chasing down and hitting Gurewitz in the face. Guetta and other officers then dragged him along the pavement before hauling him off.
Additionally, pictures captured by a wire service photographer showed Guetta kneeling on a supine protester and pushing his head to the ground with his elbow.
הייתי שם אתמול מול השוטר שחבט בעוצמה במפגין. לא הייתה שום התגרות או פרובוקציה מצד המפגין. אני מגיע לכל הפגנה, תמיד מקפיד להודות לשוטרים על עבודתם המקצועית, אך אתמול נחצה גבול.
אסור שאירוע כזה יקרה שוב pic.twitter.com/x8EP4xdnks
— Yair Golan – יאיר גולן (@YairGolan1) August 23, 2020
Guetta, who was suspended for just a day, claimed that he was assaulted by the demonstrators and that he had not used excessive force.
Initially defending Guetta, police said at the time that the unauthorized march through the city raised tensions, which had already been running high due to a number of clashes with police in previous protests.
The last few months have seen growing protests outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, with some calling on Netanyahu to resign because of three corruption indictments against him — including one for bribery — and others complaining about the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.