Updated: Jun 7, 2022
Monday, June 6, 2022, 10:56 On Friday, May 27, shortly before Shabbat, Avichai Levi, an IDF officer from the Givat Olga neighborhood of Hadera, was brutally detained after asking a group of Arabs to obey the bylaws of the local beach. Honenu Attorney Avraham Sofer, who is representing Levi, filed a complaint on his behalf with the Police Investigation Unit (PIU) against the policemen who detained him, demanding that they be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for their conduct. The complaint filed with the PIU – see summary below the statements from Levi's father-in-law and Honenu Attorney Sofer – describes the unfolding of the incident.
Assaf Zoldan, Levi's father-in-law, complained that the police lied to the family: "On Shabbat evening, Rabbi Ephraim Giami, the head of Yeshivat Olga, went to the police station and stayed there for a long time asking where Avichai was. The police told Rabbi Giami that they had taken Avichai to Kishon [detention center] and that Avichai had asked the police not to notify his family, even though Avichai had told the police to write down his address so that they could notify his wife. They did the opposite of what he requested.
"After Shabbat, Rabbi Giami went to the court as soon as they [the yeshiva] were informed where Avichai was, and he succeeded in stopping the hearing until an attorney from Honenu arrived. The Honenu attorney saved the situation, of course, and succeeded in obtaining Avichai's immediate release. Now we hope that we will successfully sue the police in this very serious case."
Honenu Attorney Avraham Sofer: "Avichai Levi is a normative individual, does not have a criminal record, has children, is religiously observant, and is an IDF officer. Close to the onset of Shabbat, through no fault of his own, he found himself detained for 24 hours. After that, he was taken to court, and the police demanded a five-day remand extension. We are pleased that the court immediately rejected the demand. Nevertheless, the policemen acted with a lack of consideration in this disgraceful and outrageous incident. This is an intolerable situation in our opinion."
Summary of the complaint filed with the PIU:
On the evening of Friday, May 27, shortly before Shabbat, Levi went to the beach in Hadera to immerse himself in the sea, as he does every week. When he arrived at the beach, several residents approached him and called his attention to a group of Arabs at a nearby park who were violating city bylaws by making excessive noise, drinking alcohol, and having a barbeque.
Levi agreed to a request by the residents for assistance and asked the Arabs to stop. In response, they threw a shoe at him. A loud argument ensued between the sides. It should be stressed that at this time, my client told the residents with him to refrain from a physical clash with the Arabs.
Several minutes later, a police car summoned by the Arabs arrived, and the policemen detained Levi, who attempted to present his version of events to them and to complain about the shoe that had been thrown at him. The policemen refused to give a reason for Levi's detention, who in response refused to identify himself until he received a clear answer as to why he was being detained. After that, an additional policeman arrived on the scene and brutally detained Levi, without warning. The detention was filmed and photographed by eyewitnesses and also widely shared on social media.
There can be no dispute or disagreement that the policemen detained my client in an outrageous and disturbing manner, to put it mildly. And it should be stressed that Levi does not have a criminal record, is married, has a child, and is an IDF officer bearing the rank of captain. He was handcuffed and the police used a taser on him when he was unable to resist detention.
The policemen brought Levi to the police station where they continued to exhibit a lack of consideration for him. The police decided to detain Levi and bring him to court after Shabbat (Saturday night), even though he denied all charges, does not have a criminal record, and is an officer in the IDF. Levi asked the police to notify his wife about the detention, but they did not. Also, because he is religious, he asked them not to transfer him to the Kishon Detention Center [which is in Kiryat Tivon] on Shabbat, but they did not respect this request either.
When Levi arrived at the Haifa Magistrates Court for a hearing, the judge rejected the police request for a five-day remand extension, ruled that there were no grounds for his detention, and released him immediately. In light of the circumstances, the policemen must be penalized to the full extent of the law for their conduct during the detention.