Jerusalem man indicted for assault property dispute

Yosef Meir Klein charged with aggravated assault and rioting over apartment complex in Mea She'arim.

December 2, 2011 03:18
3 minute read.
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The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office issued an indictment on Thursday against a prominent figure in the extremist ultra-Orthodox Sikrikim (Sicarii) group.

Yosef Meir Kein, 21 – known by his adopted last name, Hazan – was charged with one count of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated assault against a police officer, and rioting.

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The aggravated assault and rioting charges relate to an incident that took place in April, in which Hazan allegedly directed acts of violence against one of the residents of Batei Varsha, a housing complex in the Mea She’arim neighborhood that has been the focus of a long-running ownership dispute between Gur Hassidim and other neighborhood factions.

Originally built in the late 1890s by a Polish philanthropist, the apartments were designated as subsidized housing for needy families specifically from Poland. Gur Hassidim, who originated in Poland and who have long dominated the complex, have engaged in bouts of reciprocal violence with the Sikrikim in recent months for the right to live there.

From the end of 2010 until April of this year, the Sikrikim staged a series of protest rallies outside the home of one Batei Varsha resident, a Gur Hassid, who lived there with his wife and two children.

According to the indictment, on April 13, a group of between 70 and 100 men led by Shalom Baruch Rost – another prominent figure among the Sikrikim – approached the residence and began throwing stones at the house for almost two hours while the family was inside.

At one stage, Hazan allegedly handed another man a canister containing an unknown substance and helped him spray the contents into the house. He reportedly provided the man, possibly a minor, with a chair to stand on so he could spray into a window above the door, and later lifted him onto his shoulders so he could reach a separate window.

The spray caused the resident and his children to vomit repeatedly and induced fits of coughing.

A Border Police unit eventually arrived and helped evacuate the family from the house, which was then “destroyed to its foundations,” according to the indictment.

On Tuesday last week, the day Hazan was arrested, a video was posted to YouTube showing footage of the incident described in the indictment and highlighting a figure that subtitles alleged was Hazan.

The charge of aggravated assault against a police officer relates to Hazan’s detention last week, when he allegedly violently resisted arrest, lightly wounding one of the detectives attempting to take him in.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended his remand on Thursday, pending a further hearing on Sunday morning.

The defendant’s attorney, Yair Nehorai, asked that the hearing to discuss the alleged evidence against his client be delayed until Sunday, so as to give the defense time to read and understand the charges.

“This is not an ordinary case,” said Nehorai during the hearing. “The alleged offenses took place six months ago and were attributed to [Hazan] by somebody else.”

According to ultra-Orthodox media outlets, Hazan’s fatherin- law, Uri Sofer, was arrested on Thursday in connection with offenses related to Batei Varsha and other quarrels.

Ya’acov Moshe Kosman, another member of the Sikrikim who was also arrested in connection with the Batei Varsha dispute, was released on Thursday. The terms of his release included a threemonth exclusion order from Jerusalem and a NIS 1,000 deposit.

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