Haredim clash with police as authorities close synagogues to stop pandemic

The haredim said the police used excessive force. A video lending credence to their claim shows a  policeman kicking the head of a haredi man who had already been detained. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

It’s not just anti-Netanyahu protesters who are feeling the (excessively) strong arm of the law. Ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, Jews complained of inordinate violence by Israeli police in the haredi cities of Beitar Ilit, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem on Saturday night and Sunday.

The police came to close their prayer halls. Police had warned the haredim in advance not to congregate.

What helped ignite passions was a video distributed widely on Sunday showing a police officer from the Yasam, or special riot unit, jumping out of a car and pouring a bucket of cold water on a child’s head and then violently seizing him.

The police claimed the video only partially captured the event and didn’t tell the whole story, which will be investigated.

The video, however, incited the haredim. When police arrived to close a number of prayer halls in Bnei Brak on Sunday, the population, already outraged by the video, clashed with the authorities.

The haredim said the police used excessive force. A video lending credence to their claim shows a  policeman kicking the head of a haredi man who had already been detained.

A police official told Israel Hayom on Monday that enforcement will continue. “A large portion of the synagogues were closed and gatherings canceled… we’re not conceding anymore – no more excuses,” he said.

Police are enforcing tighter corona regulations that prohibit large gatherings in order to stop the spread of the disease, which started to spiral out of control since August.

Making the job of preventing large religious gatherings more difficult is the Sukkot holiday, which runs through October 10.

In secular Israel, similar scenes of violence played out when thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday night against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The protests broke rules that the Knesset had adopted limiting demonstrations to 20 people. Several instances of police using what appeared to be excessive force were documented.

Yesh Atid party member Ofer Shelah tweeted at the time, as it turns out incorrectly: “… can anyone explain the gap between excessive enforcement in demonstrations and almost non-existent enforcement in synagogues?”