Israeli police disperse an ultra-Orthodox anti-conscription protest in Jerusalem on September 17, 2017. .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Nearly five months after police used excessive force against dozens of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men during a conscription protest in Jerusalem, an officer involved in the melee has been indicted on two counts of assault.
Video footage of the September 17 clash shows police body-slamming, punching and kicking several men, some of whom were already detained.
Three protesters were treated for moderate injuries, and nine arrests were made.
At least one officer was treated for a light injury.
After the footage surfaced in the media, the Justice Ministry its Police Investigations Department said they would launch probes to determine culpability among the officers seen beating the demonstrators.
The protest was organized by the fundamentalist, anti-Zionist group Eda Haredit, after 40 ultra-Orthodox men – including the grandson of a prominent rabbi from the Toldos Avraham Yitzhak hassidic community – were arrested for refusing to serve.
Many demonstrators also came to protest a decision by the High Court of Justice to strike down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service while they are studying at yeshivot.
The protesters refused to disperse until all the Haredi conscripts were released from police custody.
On Sunday, officer Ido Katzir, who works in the community policing unit in the Lev Habirah station of Jerusalem, was formally indicted for striking several protesters during the confrontation.
According to the indictment filed against him, Katzir punched one man and kicked another who was laying on his stomach and handcuffed.
In a statement, police said Katzir “will be dealt with using administrative and disciplinary measures as soon as possible.”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an attorney representing one of the victims, said on Tuesday that the charges against Katzir do not go far enough, and that he should be removed from the force.
“This is a first step, but not enough,” Gvir told Ynet.
“The police officer must be removed. Anyone who harms civilians through no fault of their own cannot serve as a patrol officer,” he continued, noting that a civil suit was filed against Katzir for NIS 75,000.
Meanwhile, Katzir’s attorney, Itzik Cohen, denied all the allegations.
“My client categorically denies the charges attributed to him in the indictment, as he did during his interrogation at the Police Investigations Division,” Cohen told Ynet.
“It will be proven in court that he acted lawfully, and that the interpretations given by the investigations unit to events are illogical.”