Police Officer Documented Pepper Spraying, Kicking Protester in Haifa

Incident occurred following Thursday demonstrations at the northern Israeli city, but police contest the 'partial' account and framing

Bar Peleg
Jack Khoury
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Previous protests against the second lockdown in Haifa, October 3, 2020.
Previous protests against the second lockdown in Haifa, October 3, 2020.Credit: Rami Shllush
Bar Peleg
Jack Khoury

A police officer used pepper spray on a protester, and then kicked a floored person during a confrontation after a demonstration in Haifa on Thursday, videos on social media have shown.

The pepper spray attack in Hadar, Haifa. Credit: Boaz Gurfinkel

The incidents occurred in the Haifa neighborhood of Hadar, where according to witnesses some protesters were burning cartons and banging on a police vehicle which arrived at the scene.

The police responded that the officers present were "professional" in their conduct after a handful of people decided to block a traffic lane and disturb public order.  

According to an eyewitness, "a municipal police vehicle arrived and there were people who started with provocations, and were perhaps looking for a fight, but immediately three cars came as reinforcement and I heard that someone was sprayed with pepper spray."

He added that "people were banging on the vehicle, and then a police officer arrived and began to spray people with pepper spray indiscriminately, and people began to flee… it's true that they were provoking the police, but provocation does not warrant such a lack of restraint."

The first video depicts an officer kicking a protester. The second video depicts the prior rioting. Credit: Shai Zilberman

The police responded by saying that "in recent hours, partial documentation of law enforcement activities in the neighborhood of Hadar in Haifa Thursday evening has circulated on social media, completely distorting the details of the incident and attempting to present it as enforcement in the context of a demonstration, rather than professional treatment that dealt with a handful of people who chose to block a traffic lane in the city and disturb public order, at the risk of the police."

According to the police, the officers "asked those present to disperse, but encountered severe resistance, including throwing glass bottles at them and disobeying instructions. They also insulted the officers and disturbed public order at the site, and therefore the police had to repel them with pepper spray, in accordance with operational needs."

The incident in Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, in another video on Friday morning from Lewinsky Street in Tel Aviv, a young woman not wearing a mask was handcuffed and dragged to a police car by several officers. Body camera foorage from one of the officers shows her asking the young woman to identify herself many times, but she refuses.

When the officer insisted and threatened her detention, the young woman began walking away, and the officer called for reinforcements.

About 12 other officers arrived at the scene, and the young woman was forcibly taken to the police station.

The police stated the officer "noticed a woman standing in the market area without a mask on her face. The woman refused to identify herself many times against the law when she was detained, despite the police officer's repeated requests."

According to the police, the young woman remains at the police station, where she "continued her misconduct."

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