Political reverberations continue from violent Givat Ze’ev wedding

In response to the ultra-Orthodox wedding in Givat Ze’ev that was marred by clashes with police officers Wednesday night, haredi politicians on Thursday called for an investigation into the incident.Footage released by the police of body-camera videos seemed to show police being jostled. According to the bride’s family members, no one had attacked the police officers who arrived at the scene, and the wedding was held in compliance with COVID-19 regulations.The police released recordings of calls made by several Givat Ze’ev residents who complained about dozens of guests at the event. Videos of the wedding taken by neighbors showed a large number of people in attendance.According to the Israel Police, when police officers arrived at the scene in Givat Ze’ev, just north of Jerusalem, they were subjected to hostile treatment by the hosts, the bride’s mother and father. That led to a physical confrontation in which a brother of the bride was injured while being arrested.Images of him being led away with a bloody face and seemingly dazed, while other family members screamed and shouted, led to denunciations by haredi politicians.Hadar Kako, the police officer who first arrived on the scene, on Thursday told KAN Reshet Bet she was recording the incident on her cellphone when the bride’s mother became angry and grabbed it. When she tried to take it back, the mother shoved her away, she said.The bride’s father hit her on the hand to try and stop her from recording the incident, Kako said, adding that she then backed down and called for reinforcements.The family members have denied that anyone intentionally attacked the police officers, including the bride’s brother, who was arrested. He said the police used excessive force against him.“They strangled him and punched him when he was already handcuffed,” Mardi Pollack, another brother, told Channel 12.“At the beginning of the event, there were 16 people outside,” he said. “We have no idea how things got so out of control. A policewoman came in with her private cellphone into the house and without thinking twice called this an attack on a policeman, and within a few minutes a patrol car and a jeep full of border police turned up as if this was the house of a terrorist.”Video footage from the police and neighbors overlooking the home where the wedding was held show dozens of people present and dancing.“My mother apologized to the policewoman, but the other [police] forces were already there, and they had to come out with a victim,” Mardi Pollack said. “Why didn’t they summon her [his mother] for a hearing the next day in a respectful manner? Why did they have to destroy the wedding?”Construction and Housing Minister Ya’acov Litzman, chairman of United Torah Judaism, on Thursday met with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to protest police actions at the wedding and in general during the coronavirus crisis, saying they have used excessive force against the haredi community.UTJ MK Yitzhak Pindrus condemned Ohana for announcing he was considering an investigation into the business activities of Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, chairman of Blue and White, while at the same time stymieing efforts to create a Knesset investigative committee into police enforcement actions during the coronavirus crisis.On Wednesday, UTJ submitted a motion in the Knesset to establish a Knesset committee to investigate the matter. It was voted down by a large majority, including by Shas MKs.On Thursday, Pindrus said he was waiting for the three Shas government ministers to support an external enquiry into police actions.Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman on Thursday criticized haredi politicians, saying their “extortion and incitement” had led to events such as the Givat Ze’ev wedding and confrontations with police.Liberman cited comments this week by UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler, who accused the government of sending “storm troopers to brutalize Jewish children,” and remarks by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, chairman of Shas, that “there will be an explosion if you do not come to an arrangement with us [the haredim].”“When representatives of the haredi sector in the Knesset express themselves like this, it is no wonder that [COVID-19] infection rates in the State of Israel go up, and we see pictures like we saw [Wednesday] at the wedding in Givat Ze’ev,” he said.“We must not capitulate to extortion and political pressure like this, and we must have focused lockdowns without connection to societal sectors,” Liberman said in reference to the pending government plan to reopen the country from the coronavirus lockdown.

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