Police officers who entered Saturday a wedding venue in an Israeli Arab village acted contrary to regulations, a preliminary investigation into clashes that erupted between the cops and the guests shows.
Police arrested 11 people suspected of assaulting police officers at the wedding in Deir al-Assad. The officers arrived at the wedding following reports of gunfire.
A civilian was seriously wounded, three officers were lightly hurt, and two police vehicles were torched as clashes intensified between the guests and the cops.
The Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct confiscated the pistols of the six policemen for ballistic tests. The policemen claim they were in mortal danger and had no choice but to open fire.
Wedding guests said that apparently one of the attendees had fired in the air. According to a police statement, the officers, who were talking to the host of the wedding, “were attacked by some of the celebrants and other residents who came from outside and fired in the air.”
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During the clashes, an officer was beaten with a club that had apparently been snatched from one of the Border Police officers who also arrived at the scene, with the attackers then fleeing while shooting in the air.
The investigation showed that some residents helped extricate the policemen and one man hid two policewomen who had been attacked in his home. One of the policewomen said their rescuer told them that he was a policeman, too. Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said that those residents who helped the police officers “were worthy of praise.”
Deir al-Assad residents do not know for certain who fired at the civilian now in critical condition, but they believe he was hit by police. Attorneys Oron Schwartz, Yogev Narkis and Ofira Sambal, who represent one of the policemen, said, “The performance of the members of the force was exemplary. The event could have ended in a horrific mob killing and an inconceivable amount of bloodshed.”
The police said in their statement that the officers “operate in the Arab communities and are sent to every incident that involves gunfire. A situation in which police officers who come to serve and protect civilians find themselves attacked by a crowd will not be tolerated.”