Tel Aviv beach (Archive)
Photo: Dalit Shaham
Several youngsters at Tel Aviv's Jerusalem Beach were in for a surprise Friday when riot police forces arrived at the site and ordered them to spill their beers, as part of an effort to enforce the new public drinking law.
The drinking of alcohol in public has been traditionally allowed in Israel, but growing violence attributed to drinking prompted lawmakers to change the legislation.
According to the new law, minors must not be carrying alcoholic drinks in public, while police are allowed to prevent adults from drinking in public according to circumstances. Under the law, a police officer may determine that alcohol not be consumed in at a certain site as not to disturb the peace.
On Friday, riot police at the beach spotted a group of 20-something beer drinkers. The police asked the beachgoers to put away their drinks, even though they were not disturbing the peace and although other people were also drinking at the site. Eyewitnesses said the group may have been approached because of members were tattooed and their hair was braided.
'I was sure it's a joke'Tel Aviv District Police officials confirmed the incident took place.
"The police officers initially warned these beachgoers," the district's spokesperson's office. "However, after they ignored the police, officers spilled the drinks, based on their judgment that the drinking could lead to disruption of public order."
"For several weeks now, police have been trying to uphold the law, while taking into consideration the various situations where people enjoy themselves," the police added.
Noa, a 27-year-old Tel Avivi resident, witnessed the incident.
"These people had no idea what the police want from them," she said. "I was sure it's a joke, but the police kept on lecturing to them, until they spilled the bottles."
"While it was happening, we realized we'll be next in line, so we finished our bottles" she added, stressing that there were no disturbances to public order. "They indeed turned to us and asked us to spill our beer. We said we just finished it. I'm stunned."
Another group member said he was very angry at the police.
"There is a small crowd who engages in drunk driving, stabs outside of nightclubs, and rapes, so the police bug an entire population…I'm certain that the police officer who came up to us sits outside with his friends after work and drinks beer on a bench."
Liorn Sinai contributed to the story