Israel Police officers were assaulted on Friday afternoon by several haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) while trying to disperse a gathering at a synagogue in Beitar Illit that took place in violation of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, police reported.
Police officers were reportedly assaulted with stones which were also thrown towards police vehicles arriving at the scene.
בעקבות דיווח שהתקבל על התקהלות של עשרות מתפללים בבית כנסת בביתר עילית בניגוד לתקנות, הוזעקו למקום שוטרים. הכוחות הותקפו על ידי הנוכחים שהחלו להשליך אבנים לעברם ולעבר ניידות משטרה, כוחות נוספים שהגיעו למקום פיזרו את ההתקהלות. חשוד בתקיפת שוטרים נעצר לחקירה— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) January 8, 2021
Footage later released by the police showed one individual threatening to kill a police officer who was trying to enter the synagogue where dozens of people were gathering in prayer.
The video published starts with a police dispatch noting that "people are not cooperating" and requesting reinforcements. After about 30 seconds the video cuts to show an individual approaching a police officer and shouting, "Are you coming in? I'll kill you!" Officers then ask the individual to identify himself. Shortly afterwards, the camera moves quickly in what seems to be a physical altercation between the man and the police officer wearing the body camera. Background voices can be heard shouting, "Leave him alone!" repeatedly. It is important to note that the footage is extremely blurry and the circumstances of the supposed violence are unclear.
The individual shown in the video was later arrested for assaulting police officers and was taken in for questioning.Friday's incident came on the first day of Israel's attempt at tightening the nationwide lockdown by imposing more restrictions and enforcement, and a couple of days after a police officer was suspended after receiving a blessing from a rabbi during a large wedding in Beitar Illit instead of breaking up the illegal gathering.Betar Illit has been recording particularly high rates of infection. On Wednesday, the mostly ultra-Orthodox city had the highest rate of positive tests in the country, at 26%, and the fourth-highest rate of new coronavirus infections nationwide, with 145.5 per 10,000 residents.