During the corona virus pandemic, the Israeli government did not allow people to pray in groups, even in the street with proper social distancing and protection. On March 30, 2020, in one of the police raids in Beis Shemesh, the Israeli police arrested Rabbi Binyamin Friedman and gave him an unusually long sentence due to his history of protests against the state. Additionally, they tortured him in jail in a shocking and horrific manner. Here is his personal account, as recounted in an interview on the anti-Zionist hotline Kol Z’akah:
Rabbi Friedman: When I came into the jail building, there was a psychologist who asked if I had any quarrels with anyone, because they put people who are likely to fight in a special cell.
Interviewer: You mean dangerous people?
Rabbi Friedman: Not dangerous, just that if someone fights with others, they put them in a special place under close supervision to prevent them from fighting with others.
I said, “Yes, I have a quarrel with the television”. He said, “okay I hear”. Later he told me to sign that I have no fights. I said,“No, I’m not signing because I do have a fight.” He said, “With a person.” In the end I did not sign.
He took me into a wing of the building and I told the officer in charge of the wing, “I will not go into a room with a television.”He said, “There is no such possibility.” I tried to explain to him. I said,“Why did they bring me here in the first place, if they didn’t have a separate room for me? Send me back to the Russian Compound prison or to the Hadarim prison, or somewhere else.” He said, “There’s nothing we can do about it,that’s how it is.”
I once heard a story told by Rabbi Yosef Kaufman that when he was in Israeli prison, he told them that if they put him in a cell with a television, he would commit suicide, and the ruse worked. So I told them the same thing. Immediately, they took me to another wing of the building called the “punishment wing” where they keep the prisoners who fight among themselves. He took me there and tied me down, hand and foot, to a bed. That’s where I spent my first day in jail.
Interviewer: How did they tie your hands to the bed?
Rabbi Friedman: They tied my feet to the foot of the bed,and in the middle of the bed there were rings welded to the bed; that’s where they put my hands.
Interviewer: A special bed made for tying up people?
Rabbi Friedman: It was a special room with a special bed.The bed was built with rings, and they took chains, regular chains, and they chained my feet to the foot of the bed and my hands to the rings. The whole time I had to lie in that position.
Interviewer: How many hours did this last?
Rabbi Friedman: I was there from 6:00 PM until 1:00 PM the next day – about 19 hours! At first they said they would unchain me the next morning, but in the end it was 1:00 PM.
Interviewer: Were you able to eat or drink there?
Rabbi Friedman: I didn’t eat or drink.