A gag order was lifted Wednesday evening on the publication of the surveillance
camera video from within the Bank Hapoalim branch in Beersheba where two days
earlier Itamar Alon killed four people before turning the gun on
Police released an edited portion
Some viewers may find this footage distressing:
In the video, Alon can
be seen entering the bank at 11:34 a.m. He also visited hours earlier, when he
tried to take money out of his account, which was NIS 6,000 in overdraft, and
was told he could not.
At 12:50, Alon is shown speaking to a bank
employee who is on the other side of the door; it is unclear if the employee is
one of the people he later allegedly killed.
In the next scene in the
video, at 12:59, Alon is shown with a Glock pistol in hand, pointing it at
something on the ground, presumably a victim, and firing a round. For the next
couple of minutes, Alon stands in the front doorway of the bank, looking out at
the street, appearing calm and in no hurry.
Next, at 1:02, two police detectives are seen racing to
the bank from the street, their guns drawn. The detectives are in civilian garb,
armed with pistols, and without protective vests. They stand in the entryway and
one of them tries to enter, before at 1:03 he flees as Alon shoots at
At 1:08, Beersheba police station head Cmdr. Tomer Badash arrives on
the scene in uniform, and at 1:11 he leads officers in, and they begin to take
out the dead and the wounded. Outside the bank, paramedics treat the
At 1:18, police make their way toward the bathroom, realizing
that Alon is inside with a hostage. They try to initiate negotiations for nearly
an hour, until at 2:02 they hear Alon shoot himself in the head, and hostage
Miriam Cohen flees into the arms of police.
Southern District head Asst.-
Ch. Yoram Halevy said on Wednesday that police unjustifiably fired into the
bathroom where Alon was holed up with his hostage.
Halevy spoke during a
meeting of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held to
examine the circumstances of the Beersheba bank branch shooting, and the
criteria for private gun ownership.
Police received a call about shots
fired in the bank branch and detectives arrived minutes later with the
understanding that there was a robbery in progress, Halevy said. They saw the
shooter and told him they were on the scene, at which point he told them he had
Minutes later, police went into the bank and began evacuating
the dead and wounded, including an innocent Beduin man, Omar Walid from Rahat,
who they suspected was a second gunman, handcuffed and then kept restrained at
the hospital until he was treated for his gunshot wounds.
Halevy, police then made their way to the bathroom where one officer heard
voices from inside and asked for permission to fire a shot into the stall, “even
though it was clear that Itamar Alon was inside with a hostage.”
commander added that at 1:20 p.m., police decided to open negotiations, with an
Arab affairs expert spending 50 minutes in vain trying to reach out to Alon.
Finally, police heard a gunshot, after which the hostage ran out of the
building. They found Alon inside, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot
During the meeting, MK Taleb Abu Arar (United Arab List-Ta’al)
asked police to establish a committee of inquiry into the decision to handcuff
Walid, adding that he had seen video showing that officers badly beat the man
while exiting the bank.
Halevy said the Beduin was in serious condition
after being shot by the gunman, and the quick action of police helped save his
life. As for the decision to handcuff him, “in battle there are situations like
this” where mistakes are made, he said.
An official representing Bank
Hapoalim’s security division said the Neveh Ze’ev neighborhood branch did not
have a security guard because the bank followed police guidelines saying
technological safeguards could be used instead.
Also at the meeting, MK
Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid) asked if there are special criteria for bank
personnel to follow when telling customers that their accounts have been
Committee head MK Miri Regev (Likud) asked for police to examine
more critically the criteria for receiving weapons, if there are figures for the
number of people holding weapons in Israel, and for Abu Arar to hand over to
police any footage showing the alleged abuse, so they can investigate the
On Tuesday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and
senior ministry and police officials held a meeting during which they discussed
ways to reduce the number of privately owned firearms.
included ensuring that companies receive a special permit approved by the police
for each firearm its employees take home from work, requiring those renewing
permits to prove that they have a need for the weapon, limiting those with
permits to a single gun, and ensuring that security companies enforce
regulations requiring them to store guns at the end of employee shifts. Some of
the proposals are already approved ministry regulations but have not been
universally enforced in recent years.
Also during the meeting, it was
agreed to launch a task force to examine the stringency of the medical and
mental tests given to people applying for permits.
“We will continue to
examine the possibility of making the criteria for weapons permits stricter, in
order to reduce as much as possible the number of citizens holding weapons who
don’t need them and in order to prevent another tragedy like the one we saw
yesterday in Beersheba,” Aharonovitch said during the meeting. •