'There's no money. On top of that they want to fine me!"

Falafel shop owner says he was tased, beaten by cops who came to fine him

Police say Ilan Atlan was operating store in violation of lockdown and that he assaulted officers at scene; owner checked himself into hospital after being freed, due to injuries

Falafel store owner Ilan Atlan speaks to reporters outside Beilinson Hospital on January 8, 2020. (Screen capture/Ynet)
Falafel store owner Ilan Atlan speaks to reporters outside Beilinson Hospital on January 8, 2020. (Screen capture/Ynet)

Police arrested the owner of a falafel shop along with his son on Friday after they resisted officers’ attempts to fine them for opening in violation of the lockdown.

Ilan Atlan, who owns a shop in the central town of Shoham, told Hebrew media that the officers had acted excessively, that all he had done was leave the sliding door to the restaurant open a crack, and that no customers had been inside when police arrived. Nonetheless, the two officers insisted on giving him an NIS 5,000 ($1,571) fine.

An argument ensued and Atlan, 50, said the police officers tased and beat him. He and his son, 18, were arrested at the scene and a court released him to five days’ house arrest. He subsequently checked himself in to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital to have his injuries examined.

For their part, police said that Atlan and his son had assaulted the officers who had tried to fine him and that they had hurled a table and chair at them. They released body-cam footage from the incident, which showed Atlan yelling at the officers and shoving a table at them, though no objects were seen being hurled.

Atlan recounted the incident to Ynet after he checked out of the hospital. “Two policemen came in and said they were giving me a NIS 5,000 fine. When I asked why they told me ‘because the door is open.’ I told him there were no customers there and that there was even a table blocking the entrance so people would not come in, but he insisted.”

“Who eats falafel at nine-thirty in the morning? I came in to try and make a living. These days I hardly sell a thousand shekels-worth of food,” he added, saying he was only making himself a sandwich at the time and was operating the business strictly via deliveries, which is allowed during the lockdown.

“The situation is very difficult. The state promises money, but there is no money. Then on top of that, they come and hit me with another fine,” Atlan lamented.

Accusing the officers of excessive force, Atlan said, “They beat me, shot me with a taser. A taser! I’m 50. In front of my son, an 18-year-old boy, he needs to see his father get beaten up like that?”

“I have no more energy. No money to pay what I owe. Just more and more debts accumulating and no money,” he said, tearing up as he sat in wheelchair outside the hospital.

Police in a statement insisted that Atlan had, in fact, been operating his restaurant in violation of the health guidelines and had previously allowed customers in. They said he had attended a hearing a day earlier in which he was warned against doing so, and that on Friday they had received reports that customers were once again crowding in the shop.

Atlan asserted that this was false, and said he had security camera footage to prove it.

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