Protester sues police over beard-tearing incident

The resident; Photo credit: Honenu

Wednesday, June 28, 2023, 10:24 Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel filed a civil suit for 30,000 NIS with the Jerusalem Magistrates Court against the Israel Police and one specific police officer on behalf of a Yehuda and Shomron resident whose beard was torn off by the officer. The incident, which was recorded, occurred near Ateret at a protest against the chaotic security situation last Saturday night. Attorney Weisel also filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit regarding the brutal officer and sent a letter to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai demanding that the officer be immediately dismissed.

Attorney Weisel described the incident in the statement of claim: “After Shabbat, a demonstration was held at the entrance to Ateret in protest of the willful powerlessness that the security forces are showing in the face of rising terror while directing their resources and energy to the investigation of Yehuda and Shomron residents who are forced to respond to terror attacks and defend their own lives. Residents who came to Ateret protested the extreme and unprecedented decision of the Binyamin Brigade Commander, Colonel Eliav Elbaz to use a sort of collective punishment and impose a lockdown on the community. As part of the lockdown, a barrier was placed at the entrance to the community. Security forces stopped and/or delayed the flow of traffic for many hours. Nobody came or went without a meticulous security check. In the framework of the protest, several Yehuda and Shomron residents, among them the complainant, sat on the entry road to the community and blocked the movement of the police forces who for some reason chose to impound residents’ cars instead of directing their resources to the prevention of the increasing terror in their area.

“Suddenly, without any preliminary exchange of words, the police officer in question approached the complainant, extended his arm towards the complainant’s face, and violently pulled his beard in a humiliating manner. The complainant screamed in pain, but despite his screams, the officer not only continued to pull the beard but increased his strength and ripped the complainant’s beard from his face. The act was so brutal that within a split second, the complainant’s beard was torn out and remained in the officer’s hand. It seems that the result of pulling the beard did not surprise the officer, who threw the beard hair scornfully on the road and continued on his way as if nothing at all had happened.”

Attorney Weisel detailed the complainant’s injury: “The pain and suffering caused to a man when his hair is pulled, and all the more so his beard, need no explanation. The humiliation a religious man feels when he is degraded by having his beard – which has religious significance to him – pulled needs no explanation. Ripping a Jew’s beard from his face is a shocking sight reminiscent of dark periods in the history of the Jewish people. To remove all doubt, it should be emphasized that throughout the entire incident, the complainant never acted violently – not at all. His only fault for which he was ‘rewarded’ with this treatment was passively demonstrating by sitting on the road. The video clip of the incident speaks for itself and proves that the officer in question acted brutally, used illegal force, and caused pain and great humiliation to the complainant.”

After filing the statement of claim, Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel stated, “The shocking assault is a reflection of the ‘ruah hamefaked’ [tone set by a commander] prevalent on the ground and the decision by the Binyamin Brigade Commander to not combat increasing Arab terror and instead to fight Yehuda and Shomron residents who dared to defend their lives. This absurdity turns the victims into the guilty and diverts the security system from its original purpose of thwarting terror to political missions whose purpose is to silence the legitimate protest of the Yehuda and Shomron residents. The brutality directed at the resident who was only protesting the willful powerlessness of the security forces and the ridiculous decision by the Binyamin Brigade Commander to impose a lockdown on the community of Ateret and not on the village from which the rioters came, is a situation that must not be ignored.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.