Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2020

WATCH: Arab neighborhood in Jaffa erupts in riot after Israeli cops target alleged virus quarantine-breaker

Dozens of Israeli police clashed with locals in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood after officers attempting to fine an uncooperative Arab coronavirus quarantine-breaker sparked a riot.

Police patrolling Ajami, a mostly Arab neighborhood, demanded identification from a man seen standing with another in the middle of the street. Under Covid-19 quarantine rules, Israeli residents are not permitted to venture more than 100 meters from their homes. The man reportedly refused to give his ID, and when a woman came to his aid to attempt to defuse the situation, she was beaten by the police, a local resident told Ynetnews. 

The commotion apparently attracted more residents to the street, and the officers radioed for backup as fighting broke out between the two groups. Dozens more cops and a SWAT team eventually arrived on the scene. Four people were ultimately arrested for allegedly attacking an officer, and the original man was hit with a NIS 500 ($ 139) fine for violating quarantine.

Footage of the incident shows dozens of people facing-off beneath thick black smoke from burning tires. A flaming dumpster and other makeshift barricades were positioned in the middle of the road as police reinforcements advanced on the locals.

In a statement supplied to the Israeli outlet, police insisted the locals were the aggressors, saying that “dozens of people gathered, including his family, surrounding the officers to aid the boy’s escape” with some of those then “confronting the forces and attacking them violently.” The officers also complained that the Arabs threw rocks and other objects at them. 

But the locals insisted it was the police who had escalated the situation, with one referring to the officers as “criminals.” Residents “can’t stand that the cops behave in such a way,” he told Ynetnews, claiming that “they don’t talk. They hit first.” 

Jaffa-Tel Aviv council member Amir Badran accused the cops of setting things off with “disrespect and violence,” while Knesset member Sami Abu Shehade condemned “the violence used by police in Jaffa.

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Israeli policemen stand together as they enforce government restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem March 24, 2020.
Israel to deploy army to help enforce Covid-19 lockdown

Police, SWAT teams and the military are being used to enforce quarantine in Israel, which has 5,591 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 23 deaths as of Wednesday. In addition to the 100 meter limit, all gatherings are forbidden. Fines for breaching the emergency measures can reach $ 1,380.

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