A woman was handcuffed by police officers on a Tel Aviv beach on Friday after she repeatedly refused to identify herself as they tried to issue a fine over her lack of a face mask.
The woman tried to walk away from the scene on Trumpeldor Beach, at which point she was arrested.
Although under virus regulations it is forbidden to be on the beach for any reason other than individual sporting activities, the woman was only fined for not wearing a mask as she sat on the sand with her partner.
The woman told Channel 12 news that she didn’t want to give her details to the police because she couldn’t afford the fine, but denied she had quarreled with the police officer.
“With my hand on my heart, I have no money. Social Security is causing me problems, and in my financial situation I cannot get a fine. I did not quarrel with the policeman, I was not rude to him, I respect the policemen and their work,” said the woman, named only as “N.”
“It is painful for me that the video spread online without my knowledge and without my approval while I was crying and humiliated,” she said, adding that she believed she was permitted to be on the beach as she lives well within the 1 kilometer limit under virus regulations.
Police said in a statement that the video was only a “partial documentation” of what happened.
“An inspector and police officer noticed a young woman staying at the beach in violation of regulations, and without a mask on her face,” police said.
“She tried to walk away in an attempt to deliberately thwart enforcement. When the policeman’s warnings were not heeded, he was forced to arrest her for misconduct in order to identify her and complete enforcement. Only when the woman was arrested did she agree to identify herself, so a report was written for the violations she committed and she was released after apologizing for her actions,” the statement read.
An unnamed surfer told the Ynet news site that it seemed the woman was singled out for punishment.
“The beach was full of people,” he said. “There was a feeling that the policeman and the inspector had simply found a victim among all the people who were at the scene.”
A witness to the incident named only as Gili, said the arrest seemed heavy-handed given the seemingly selective enforcement of violations, and recent revelations of public figures flouting the rules.
“A young girl is going to sit at the beach this weekend and they decide to stop her. What have we come to? Is this what the police are dealing with? Nonsense. There is a violation of so many more significant regulations than someone sitting alone and not endangering anyone,” Gili said. “Elected officials are violating regulations on the right and left, there are such stupid decisions and there is a lack of trust in the regulations. The police could have exercised discretion and left her alone.”
Coronavirus transmission rates are presumed to be lower outside, but there is still a risk of spreading the virus.
After initial success containing the virus in Israel with early lockdown restrictions, the government’s handling of its reopening has been widely criticized, with second-wave infections spiraling out of control in recent months and criticism that regulations are illogical.
Tel Aviv has a relatively low infection rate of 43 cases per 10,000 residents, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Friday. Meanwhile, the nearby ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak has 293 cases per 10,000 residents.