Police officers assaulted after asking bus passenger to put mask on

Two cops require treatment for injuries after man refuses to provide identification, amid rash of attacks on those attempting to enforce mask regulations; suspect arrested

An Israeli policwoman who was injured during an alterncation with a man who refused to wear a face mask in accordance with coronavirus health orders, Jerusalem September 1, 2021. (Israel Police)
An Israeli policwoman who was injured during an alterncation with a man who refused to wear a face mask in accordance with coronavirus health orders, Jerusalem September 1, 2021. (Israel Police)

Two policewomen were assaulted Wednesday after asking a man riding a bus to put a face mask on, Israel Police said.

The police officers were lightly injured in the incident and the suspect was detained.

The officers were enforcing rules requiring face masks be worn on public transportation and boarded a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv when it stopped at a station at the Hemed Interchange on Route 1.

They asked the man to put on a mask, but he refused. When the officers then asked him for identification, he refused.

In a video of the incident, apparently taken from a police bodycam and broadcast by Channel 12, the man, dressed in ultra-Orthodox garb and apparently a resident of the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem, is also heard making remarks about not wanting to speak with female officers.

He was asked to exit the vehicle, which he did. As the officer further pressed him to provide identification he attacked them, injuring both. An officer who was nearby and a civilian assisted the two policewomen in overpowering the man, who was arrested and taken in for questioning.

An image shared by police showed one of the offices with blood from a cut on the bridge of her nose. Both injured officers require hospital treatment, one of whom suffered a broken nose, Channel 12 reported.

A senior Jerusalem police official told the station that the incident had “crossed a red line” and that force will press for maximum charges against the suspect. The man was to be brought for a remand hearing on Thursday.

The attack came after a bus driver was assaulted in the northern city of Afula on Monday after asking a passenger to put on a mask, Channel 12 reported. The passenger beat the driver with a cell phone, causing him injuries that required hospital treatment.

In another incident of violent pushback against virus rules, police said Wednesday that a resident of Tel Aviv, 22, was arrested for vandalizing a municipal patrol vehicle in the city of Rishon Lezion the night before.

Municipal inspectors on duty in the Hazahav Mall in the city noticed two men who were not wearing face masks, which are required in all indoor public areas.

The inspectors fined the men who responded by cursing the officials. Later, a third person told the inspectors that he had seen someone puncturing the tires of their vehicle that was parked outside.

A police review of security camera footage identified the suspect as one of the men who was fined earlier. He was detained for questioning by police.

Earlier this month a bus driver was hospitalized after being assaulted by a man refusing to wear a face mask.

The incident occurred on the 461 bus line from Ariel to Jerusalem, near the entrance to the Shvut Rachel settlement. The suspect was arrested shortly afterward.

Israel has ramped up health rules aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 amid a recent wave that has seen record daily cases diagnosed. The face mask rule for indoor public areas was reintroduced in June.

Health Ministry figures showed there were 10,384 new cases diagnosed on Tuesday.

More than 11,000 new cases of COVID were confirmed in Israel on Monday, according to the ministry, marking a record one-day high since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Figures published Tuesday showed Israel with the world’s highest seven-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases per million people.

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