Rioters, police clash in Jaffa after officers accuse man of violating quarantine

Suspect found not to have broken isolation but fined for being over 100 meters from home; 4 arrested as police and residents blame each other for employing violence

Police seen after riots break out in Jaffa on April 1, 2020 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Police seen after riots break out in Jaffa on April 1, 2020 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Dozens of people protested and some rioted in Jaffa on Wednesday after police stopped a man and accused him of breaking mandatory coronavirus quarantine.

The man refused to show officers his identification card and was eventually fined for being more than 100 meters from his home.

Police said that as they questioned the man they were encircled by his family members, some of whom attacked officers.

Police said in a statement that rioters “arrived on the scene in an organized fashion with stones, tires and flammable materials.” Protesters clashed with police, burning tires and blocking roads.

Four people were arrested, police said. Residents told the Kan public broadcaster that police were violent when carrying out arrests.

Videos posted to social media appeared to show violent confrontations between police officers and residents.

جعفر فرح مدير مركز مساواة????????"هذا توثيق للعنف الذي استعملته الشرطة اليوم في يافا"געפר פרח יו"ר מוסאווה:"אלימות משטרתית ביפו. שוטרים אוכפים את תקנות הקורונה.ומעצרים אלימים.ומה יקרה אם אחד באמת חולה קורונה".

Posted by ‎فرات نصار – פוראת נסאר – Furat Nassar‎ on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Police said some officers were hit when rioters threw objects toward them, adding that although demonstrations are permitted to take place under the emergency health regulations, they would not tolerate violence.

Under current restrictions, demonstrations are permitted to take place if protesters remain two meters apart.

Israelis were ordered starting last Wednesday to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of approved activities, including for some work, purchasing food and medicine or taking a short walk no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from their home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) or imprisonment.

The cabinet overnight Monday approved a set of new measures further tightening restrictions on the public amid efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic, including a ban on prayer quorums and limits on funerals and Jewish circumcision ceremonies.

The new regulations also place further limitations on workplaces, seeking to lower the workforce outside homes from 30 percent to 15% of its full capacity, and instructing all those working outside their homes to take their temperature daily before coming in to work.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Israel rose Wednesday to 25, and the number of those diagnosed with the coronavirus increased to 5,591. According to the Health Ministry figures, the sick included 97 people in serious condition, of whom 76 were attached to ventilators. Another 118 people were in moderate condition, 226 patients had recovered, and the rest had mild symptoms.

Members of the Arab-majority Joint List have contended that medical authorities have not tested enough Arab Israelis for the virus, but have also said some members of the Arab community hesitate to contact MDA when experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

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