Police release portion of bank shooting video

Video from surveillance camera shows part of shooting in Bank Hapoalim branch in Beersheba after gag order lifted.

Bank shooting screenshot soldiers 370 (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 2)
Bank shooting screenshot soldiers 370
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 2)
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 himself.
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 him.
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 wounded.
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 a hostage.
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.
According to 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.”
The 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 wound.
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 closed.
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 incident.
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.
The suggestions 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. •