After a string of reports were published alleging police brutality against people not wearing masks, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday to allow Israel Police to publish the full body cam footage from the incidents, according to Channel 12.
The incidents are currently being investigated by the Police Investigation Division (PID). Ohana wants the footage to be released without being considered a "disruption of investigative proceedings."
Some body cam footage and footage from passersby of the incidents was released to media, but body cam footage isn't released once the PID gets involved, in order to avoid disrupting the investigation.
Ohana wrote to Mandelblit, saying that it is never justified to "use illegal force against a civilian, especially not real violence."
"In most encounters between a police officer and a civilian, the incidents end without any unusual events, when the officer does his job," said Ohana, according to Channel 12. "Sometimes the officers fail and thus the full seriousness of the undertaking must be dealt with. However, they usually have a good answer and even proof of their claims, found in the videos in question."
Concerning the practice not to release body cam footage, Ohana wrote, "In my opinion, this claim should not be accepted, and it is unbalanced in relation to the national damage that may result from the failure to provide an immediate answer in the appropriate cases."
On Wednesday, a teenager with special needs was violently arrested after he was spotted not wearing a mask. The officers pinned him down, handcuffed and arrested him, according to Israeli media reports.
The teenager's father told N12 that "they broke two of his teeth, he's covered in blood - This is not the police, it's a crime organization," and added that the whole family is shaken up. "It's a disgrace...couldn't they have given him a NIS 500 fine?! Why hurt him?," he asked, adding that his son "didn't even understand what they wanted from him and why they're hitting him - it's shocking."
Over the past weekend, a 24-year-old was violently arrested in Holon for not wearing a mask, according to Israeli media reports. The youth required medical care after the arrest, with injuries to his head and throughout his body. The officers decided to arrest him after he refused to identify himself. Video from the scene showed an officer using a taser in the arrest and his friend telling the officers "What did you do to him? He's all bloody."
A judge at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court ordered the 24-year-old to be released on Sunday, but the police requested to delay the release and intend to object to the decision.
The judge wrote that this is "a severe incident that escalated from a simple request by the police from the suspect and his friends to wear a mask on their faces. I can't ignore the fact that the suspect was very injured and required medical care at a hospital."
The attorney of the police involved in the incident claims that the suspect assaulted the officers before the police felt the need to use a taser, with one of the officers requiring medical care after the suspect hit him in the face with the handcuffs that had been placed on one of his hands.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.