Cop Filmed Punching Demonstrator at Tel Aviv Protest Over Settler's Death in Police Chase

Hundreds protest in front of public security minister’s home and block roads, calling to dismantle the police unit involved in the teen's West Bank death

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Police take away a protester during a demonstration over the death of teenage settler Ahuvia Sandak in a police car chase, Tel Aviv, January 7, 2021.
Police take away a protester during a demonstration over the death of teenage settler Ahuvia Sandak in a police car chase, Tel Aviv, January 7, 2021.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

A police officer was filmed punching one of several hundred protesters in Tel Aviv on Thursday, demonstrating against police following the death of Ahuvia Sandak, a teenage settler who was killed during a car chase in the West Bank in December.

In a statement, Israel Police said "the incident will be transferred for examination by the appropriate authorities."

A mounted police officer was also filmed knocking another protester to the ground while galloping. The 16-year-old protester was injured lightly in the leg and brought to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital for treatment.

About 300 people gathered in front of the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana in the city, with protesters calling to shut the central investigations unit of the Judea and Samaria police district, which operates in the West Bank and whose officers were involved in the incident that led to Sandak’s death.

The protesters later moved toward the major Hashalom junction, blocking traffic by marching on and sitting across main roads. Law enforcement, which included units from the riot, border and mounted police, attempted to disperse the demonstrators with the use of force.

The police also said the protestors threw rocks, overturned a police car, slashed the tires of police vehicles, tore roads signs and traffic barriers, and smashed the windows of a prisoner transport. About 20 protesters were arrested.

"The officers who operated on the scene had to deal with a protest that spilled over into a riot, during which main roads were blocked and a handful of rioters confronted the police and did not follow instructions," police said in a statement. 

Sandak died after the car in which he was riding overturned during a police chase in December 2020. The police were chasing Sandak and four of his friends on suspicions they had thrown stones at Palestinians. The four other passengers were arrested and are suspected of recklesshomicide, as they allegedly fled the scene after the accident – while Sandak was still trapped under the vehicle.

Since the young man’s death and the arrest of his four friends, right-wing activists have been holding demonstrations in the West Bank and Jerusalem, some of which have turned violent. Last week, hundreds protested across from the offices of the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police misconduct in Jerusalem.

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