MK Son Har-Melech to Police Comm.: Dismiss the offending officers

Monday, February 20, 2023, 9:05 Last Wednesday, during the court ordered-destruction of a Jewish-owned vineyard near Shilo, border police officers sexually assaulted Member of Knesset Limor Son Har-Melech (Otzma Yehudit) and violated her parliamentary immunity.

As a result of the abuse MK Son Har-Melech was subjected to, Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai on her behalf, demanding that he dismiss the officers responsible, including two senior officers, Chief Superintendent Shahar Yitzhaki and Superintendent Yassir Assadi, who were among the commanders of the police forces carrying out the destruction. Attorney Weisel also wrote a letter of complaint to the Police Investigation Unit on her behalf demanding that the officers be immediately suspended and put on trial.

At the opening of his letter to Police Commissioner Shabtai, Atttorney Weisel described the assault on the MK: “Taking advantage of her status as a member of Knesset and her parliamentary immunity, MK [Son Har-Melech] arrived at the vineyard and called out to stop the destruction, which she claimed was being done in an underhanded manner and for which she claimed there was no legal justification. At some point, the MK stood on the path leading into the vineyard and blocked a tractor that was driving in. As she was standing on the path, Superintendent Yassir Assadi approached her and ordered her to move aside so that the tractor could pass, but the MK chose to remain in place. Subsequently, the MK moved to the shoulder of the path, whereby officer Yassir called out to the three other police officers in question and told them to form a ring around the MK. They encircled her with their arms and closed her into a tight ring that prevented her from leaving the site and almost prevented her from moving.”

Attorney Weisel described in his letter how Chief Superintendent Shahar Yitzhaki, Superintendent Yassir Assadi, Officer Shmuel Asoulin, and an additional police officer applied patently illegal force in a humiliating and invasive manner that greatly violated the privacy and modesty of MK Son Har-Melech: “The height of the assault occurred when one of the police officers pressed up against the MK and thrust his leg between her legs in an invasive manner, which is considered at least a physical assault, and, under certain circumstances, may be considered sexual harassment.”

With regard to the sexual assault experienced by the MK, the complaint stated, “The police officers did not only trap the MK between their arms, but when she tried to escape the ring, they went so far as to squeeze her body between their shoulders. The culmination of the assault occurred when the MK was crushed between the policemen’s shoulders and while she succeeded in freeing her upper body from the ring, her lower body was still trapped inside. At this point, one of the policemen pressed up against the MK and thrust his leg between her legs.

“As one can see and can hear in the recording of the incident, even the police commander was surprised by what he saw, and when he understood what the officer in his charge was doing, he immediately shouted to him, ‘No, no, no, no! What are you doing!?,’ and a shocked expression came over his face.

Attorney Weisel wrote in the letter, “A police officer who allows himself to thrust his leg between the legs of a woman who is trapped in his arms, and also police officers who allow themselves to violate the parliamentary immunity of a member of Knesset, to trap her in such an invasive manner, and to use illegal force on her, are unsuitable to serve the State of Israel in a position that grants them power and authority.”

In conclusion, Attorney Weisel leveled sharp criticism at the policemen: “It is intolerable for officers in the Israel Police to allow themselves to blatantly disregard civil rights and parliamentary immunity and thus to harm a member of Knesset. The assault-harassment which concluded the incident would not have occurred without the long series of violations and abuses that preceded it and which greatly influenced the general atmosphere amongst the police commanders, who stood behind the conduct as described above. Therefore, Police Commission Shabtai must use the authority granted to him by the government to immediately dismiss the police officers in question.”

Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel stated, “This was a shocking incident that crossed all red lines. Police officers publicly trampled the law by blatantly disrespecting the parliamentary immunity, dignity, and modesty of a member of Knesset. This must not pass quietly. The brutality of the officers with regard to the member of Knesset reflects the overbearing and disrespectful attitude in the higher echelons of the Israel police towards certain sections of the population that guided the destruction of the vineyard and that led to the violence against settlers who were at the site. We expect the police commissioner to immediately dismiss the officers who violated the parliamentary immunity and modesty of a member of Knesset.”

Police brutality during destruction of the vineyard; Video credit: Honenu

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