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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Police “may have lost control” of a protest by ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem Sunday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday, but added that demonstrators also attacked police officers.

Speaking to the Israel Broadcast Corporation (Kan), Erdan noted that nine officers were injured in the melee, which took place. But he said that video footage of officers kicking, beating and pushing non-violent protesters were “appalling” and that the police internal investigation department unit would investigate the incident.

“At least from the footage, it appears that the officers lost control and used unreasonable force,” Erdan said.

Nine officers were wounded and the same number of haredim arrested as hundreds of people descended on the outskirts of the capital’s haredi Geula neighborhood to protest plans to apply the IDF military draft to ultra-Orthodox youth, blocking roads and throwing rocks at police.

One of the detainees was the grandson of Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Kohn, leader of the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak sect in the Meah Shearim neighborhood a short distance from the protest

Haredi protests in northern Jerusalem have become frequent in recent years as the army has cracked down against draft-dodgers – individuals who opt out of military service in order to study in religious seminaries (yeshivot) but who do not actually attend classes. In addition, haredim have frequently protested against IDF programs to create frameworks in the army that are consistent with haredi mores and values, and ultra-Orthodox soldiers are regularly subjected to verbal abuse and physically attacked in haredi communities around the country.

Left-wing politicians were quick to condemn the violence.

“Yet another instance of police violence,” said Meretz Party Chairwoman Zahava Gal-on. “We’ve seen incidents like this in the past, but they passed as if nothing happened.

“I call on the police to bring the officer to justice.”

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz added that while he supports efforts to apply the draft to the haredim, it is no less important to ensure citizens’ right to protest.

“Police and border police units are responsible for the most fractious, explosive points in Israeli society,” Peretz said in a media statement. “Despite the complicated [nature of these issues] we must not allow ourselves to get to a situation in which we lose control.”