Thousands of police officers to expand coronavirus restriction enforcement

The enforcement efforts will be "concentrated in the busiest bus lines, as well as cafés, businesses and venues with the highest closed-area density."

Israel Border Police stop as the siren rings out across Israel to mark Yom Hazikaron, April 28, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Border Police stop as the siren rings out across Israel to mark Yom Hazikaron, April 28, 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Thousands of police officers were stationed across the country Sunday morning in order to expand the enforcement of the new coronavirus-related restrictions, Israel Police said in a statement.

According to police, eight backroom units were established across Israel's six national districts in order to enforce the new emergency regulations expected to be signed by the cabinet Sunday afternoon, focusing on public transportation, businesses, cafés and event venues.

As part of a "smart enforcement" plan outlined by Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, the enforcement efforts will be "concentrated in the busiest bus lines, as well as cafés, businesses and venues with the highest closed-area density."

Later on Sunday, the Knesset Coronavirus Committee is expected so vote on restricting closed-area gatherings to fifty people. In addition to the new measures, police forces will continue enforcing the existing masks requirements and social distance regulations.

Israel Police's broad enforcement of the emergency regulations came under heavy criticism earlier this week, when a video of Wednesday arrest of an autistic teenager not wearing a mask began circulating. Shot in the southern city of Dimona, the video showed the special-needs 17-year-old being violently subdued by law enforcement.

"The kid is broken. It is disgraceful," the boy's father told N12. "They broke two of his teeth, they broke his face, he is completely covered in blood," he added. "If police behave in such a way, they are a gang" rather than law enforcement.

"What is the problem with giving him a NIS 500 ($145.5) fine? Why would you beat him? They say he refused to identify, but the police officer is a neighbor who lives nearby," he continued. 

"The kid is in special education and has special needs and slow development. He did not even know what they want from him and why they are beating him," he said. "It is disturbing and horrible."

Police responded to the video, saying a "preliminary examination concluded that the officers first gave a warning. A short time afterwards, they saw the teen and his friend once again without face masks."

According to police, "the 17-year-old refused to identify himself, after which the officers informed him he was being delayed. After he continued resisting and refusing to identify, they were forced to arrest him."

Amid the examination launched by South District Commander Deputy Commissioner Yoram Sofer, a police source cited by N12 said in case it is found the officers from the Dimona precinct acted inappropriately they would be treated accordingly.

Incident similar to "the images of the special-needs teen's arrest yesterday in Dimona have to stop," President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter Thursday in response to the incident. 

"Such incidents are the very reason why we established, together with the Labor and Welfare Ministry, a committee that would give law enforcement and security forces tools to address people with disabilities," Rivlin added. "Only education, recognition and raising awareness can lead to an actual change."