An Israeli police officer was suspended after video showed him pulling forcibly on the peyos of a Chareidi man in Beit Shemesh on Friday. While investigators look into the incident, the officer was immediately removed from his position.
Municipal workers were carrying out a demolition order in a largely Chareidi neighborhood of the city and were accompanied by the police. Clashes broke out between the police and protesters who opposed the demolition.
Beit Shemesh Police claimed that local resident Mordechai Kreuzer attacked officers and resisted arrest. “During the arrest an officer was injured in the leg, causing a fracture,” police said.
However, video shows the police officer approach Kreuzer, shove him into a minivan, and strike him in the face, yanking his hair and dragging him by his peyos toward police vehicles. The man who was identified by the news outlet Kikar Shabbat as Beit Shemesh resident Mordechai Kreuzer, does not appear to resist.
The video was filmed from a distance and does not show what preceded the altercation.
Kreuzer claimed that he was standing outside his home together with his wife and children observing the protest when a police officer collided with him and began to beat him.
“He told me ‘you’re going to die today,’” Kreuzer told Kikar Shabbat. “He pulled my peyos — it was humiliating and painful. If he had pulled a little harder, they would have been torn. I couldn’t do anything, not even resist, and they say that I attacked police,” Kreuzer said.
Evidence from the incident had been transferred to the Police Internal Investigations Department. Kreuzer has since been released.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who has come under fire as police have been accused of brutality against Ethiopian-Israelis, called the incident appalling and said he approved of suspending the officer.
Erdan wrote on Twitter: “I condemn all violence by police and the use of unnecessary force. We must finish the investigation immediately and publish its findings and the punishment…as a message against violence by police.”