A security vehicle belonging to the Beitar Illit municipality was filmed Thursday evening hitting a young man protesting the planned extension of the lockdown in the Haredi city-settlement due to its high morbidity rate.
The man was lightly injured after he was seen flying through the air as the security car flew by the protesters, sparking an outcry on social media, particularly among those who have criticized police for what they have deemed excessive force against ultra-Orthodox violators of the government’s coronavirus guidelines.
However, subsequently published security camera footage from the settlement appeared to show the young protester climbing onto the security vehicle’s hood while dozens of other protesters began to surround the car as well.
The city’s mayor, Meir Rubinstein, issued a statement saying he would see to it that the driver of the vehicle would be fired if it was proven that he operated inappropriately.
המשטרה עיכבה לחקירה את נהג רכב הביטחון שתועד פוגע בהולך רגל בביתר עילית. ראש העיר: “אין שום הצדקה לאירוע חמור כזה. איש הביטחון יובא מיידית לבירור ואם יימצא שנהג לא כדין – יפוטר לאלתר”
(צילום: שלומי כהן, מחאות החרדים הקיצוניים)@glick_sh pic.twitter.com/nHRoOKNPLd
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) October 15, 2020
Police said they had detained the driver for questioning and had opened a probe into the incident.
The high-level coronavirus cabinet voted earlier Thursday to begin lifting lockdown restrictions starting on Sunday, but Beitar Illit is expected to be ordered to remain under strict measures due to its high morbidity rate.
The settlement was already singled out among several other “red zones” that required a night-time lockdown last month, and officials there argue that Beitar Illit will not be able to economically survive an additional shutdown.
Health officials, on the other hand, warn that a failure to contain the spread in highly infected areas could lead to another nationwide lockdown, which would be far more damaging.
Ministers earlier Thursday agreed to lift the limits next week on Israelis traveling more than one kilometer from home unless for specific permitted purposes; allow them to visit others’ homes so long as caps on gatherings are adhered to (10 indoors, 20 outdoors); reopen preschools and daycares; allow restaurants to serve takeout; permit businesses that don’t receive customers to open; allow Israelis to visit beaches and national parks; and reopen the Western Wall plaza and Temple Mount compound for worship under certain restrictions.
The first phase of reopening after a month-long nationwide closure is part of a Health Ministry plan for a gradual, several-month exit based on epidemiological benchmarks.
Israel has been under a national lockdown for the past month to contain a “raging second wave of the pandemic”, which at one point reached some 9,000 daily “cases”.
Recent days have seen both the number of daily “cases” and the percentage of positive tests go down amid the sweeping restrictions on the public. The death toll is rising, however, crossing 2,000 on Sunday — just five weeks after it passed 1,000.