Before entering hearing of three east Jerusalem men accused of security offenses, family members whip out belts, helmets, start beating security officers. Judges transferred to safety, backup force helps take control of crowd
Chaos in the halls of justice: Security officers at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday were forced to disperse a violent riot that erupted when dozens of family members of three defendants accused of security offenses in east Jerusalem began screaming, cursing and beating them at the entrance to the courtroom.
As spirits heated, the judges were immediately transferred to their offices and an emergency situation was declared over the security communications system.
The hearing leading to the riot was held against Nur al-Adin Khader, Mahnd Hamed and Murad abu- Hamdan. Hamed was convicted of carrying and selling weapons, and opening fire in a place of residence. Abu-Hamdan was also convicted of carrying arms and firing live ammunition in a residential area.
Even before the hearing commenced, some 40 of the defendants’ relatives arrived at the courthouse. On their way to the courtroom, the family members – both men and women – suddenly pulled out their belts and began flogging the security guards. Others used helmets and other objects to hit the guards.
The violent clash lasted about 10 minutes, until a backup force, assisted by Nahshon fighters, managed to push the crowd out of the building. However the ruckus continued, and in an unusual step the Nahshon fighters whipped out teargas canisters and dispersed them into the crowd. Meanwhile, a police force was called to the scene, and arrested two of the participants.
“It looked just like a battlefield,” an eyewitness told Ynet, “If it wasn’t for the security guards’ initiative, a lot of damaged could have been caused, both to the court and to the judges.”
Another bystander also expressed satisfaction over the conduct of the security officers during the incident, “They acted in a respectful manner. They employed reasonable force and managed to curtail the violence.”