A video showing a demonstrator hit in the face by a stream of high-pressure water fired from a water cannon has again raised questions over police tactics at protests calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation over alleged corruption and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the video, which was broadcast Friday by Channel 12 news but appeared to have been filmed earlier in the week, the demonstrator is directly hit in the face with the powerful jet of water, causing his or her head to snap backwards as he or she is thrown to the ground.
The individual was not identified by the outlet and it wasn’t clear at what stage of events the water cannon was fired.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters have been holding regular rallies outside his official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, calling on the premier to resign due to his indictment on corruption charges. Rallies against Netanyahu’s economic policies during the coronavirus pandemic have also been held, though mostly in Tel Aviv.
There have been occasional scenes of violence at recent protests, and police were reportedly wary of further clashes. Protesters have also accused police of using excessive force during the demonstrations.
לכל מי שתהו איך קרה שהאנשים ששכבו בצידי המדרכות התעלפו מהמכתזית – הנה התשובה: pic.twitter.com/GODAWYLvGO
— Achiya Schatz (@schatzah) July 24, 2020
So far, police appear to be spraying protesters with water and colored water, rather than deploying “skunk spray,” a foul-smelling chemical compound initially developed for use against Palestinian rioters which has also been used against ultra-Orthodox protesters.
Jerusalem police have fired water to clear protesters at Balfour refusing orders to disperse at least three times since last week. However, some said the police’s use of the cannons just after midnight early Friday morning marked a ratcheting up of the police tactic, as water trucks appeared to chase off protesters no matter which way they turned to leave.
Officers sprayed protesters with high-pressure water cannons in a bid to move people off the streets. Some protesters who were peacefully dispersing were hit in the back by the water cannons, and activists said police left them with nowhere to go.
Police arrested or detained 55 people as they cleared the area, all of whom were released by Friday, most of them with limitations barring them from such protests for the next week to 10 days, and one to house arrest with police alleging he had attacked them.
This is not the first time Israeli police’s use of water cannons as a riot dispersal method has drawn attention. In 2017, a woman attempting to walk by protesters was hit by water fired by a cannon, sending her flying down the street, in an incident caught on video that made headlines around the globe.