Probe: Cop who fired into air at protest acted appropriately
By Jonathan Lis • Ha'aretz
A Jerusalem district policeman who fired into the air during ultra-Orthodox rioting about three weeks ago acted appropriately, according to the officer appointed to investigate the incident.
The investigating officer said the policeman who discharged his weapon did so because he thought his life was endangered. Stones were thrown at him, and he drew his weapon in self-defense to disperse the crowd that had gathered, it was found.
The investigation concluded his weapon use was "proportionate" and appropriate under the circumstances. The findings were send to National Police Headquarters, where a decision will be made whether to adopt the investigator's conclusions.
The Jerusalem district deputy police commander, Brig. Gen. Niso Shaham, presented the findings yesterday at a Knesset Interior and Environment Committee hearing on police violence directed at ultra-Orthodox demonstrators in Jerusalem in recent weeks. At the hearing, MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) complained about the use of tear gas and stun grenades and live ammunition fire to disperse demonstrators.
Shaham described the incident under investigation as exceptional and unconnected to the regular demonstrations over the Sabbath opening of the Karta parking garage or the arrest of the ultra-Orthodox mother accused of starving her son.
The violent confrontation with the policeman occurred shortly after a murder the end of August at a Jerusalem hostel. Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews came to the hostel to prevent the body of the victim (who was known to the police as a criminal) from being removed. The demonstrators were upset that the police planned to send the body for an autopsy. The demonstrators threw rocks at police, who left in an armored vehicle that was sent to extricate them.
Thirteen police cruisers were damaged in the incident, including one set on fire, and two police motorcycles were destroyed. Several policemen were also injured; one officer has not yet returned to work after a blow to the head.