Wednesday, January 06, 2021
Several police officers claimed to have allowed a mass wedding to take place in contravention of coronavirus regulations have been suspended from their posts by the incoming police commissioner, Kobi Shabtai, until the incident is investigated.
Hundreds of people attended the celebration on Tuesday night in the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Betar Ilit. The group of officers who arrived at the scene reportedly left after receiving a blessing from the admor, the leader of the Toldos Avrohom Yitzhok Hasidic sect, who was marrying his grandson.
The West Bank district commander of the Israel Police, Maj. Gen. Moshe Barket, said that he took a grave view of the officers' conduct.
Several police officers impounded sound equipment at the end of the event, with some Hasidic sources alleging that law enforcement had been told in advance about the wedding, and had committed not to enter the site before 11 P.M.
"In the early evening hours, a large contingent of police came, but they stayed on adjacent streets and didn't approach the complex where the wedding was taking place," a source said, adding that the advance plans with the police also took into account that the holding of the wedding might leak to the press. "The agreement was that if the event became public, the police would only come as a formality, enter and maybe even issue fines, but they wouldn't disperse those in attendance," he said.
Speaking to Haaretz, however, another member of the Hasidic community disputed that arrangements had been coordinated in advance with the police.
"That never happened," he said. "The police came and threatened to send a force inside. We allowed them to come in and speak to the admor, and after that, they came back and impounded the equipment."
In video footage of the wedding, a police officer is seen shaking hands with the admor and bowing his head to receive the rabbi's blessing. A large number of people could be seen nearby not wearing masks.
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