As the traditional Bedouin wedding season kicks off, footage of unruly armed motorcades and camel races around Israel's southern Negev region pop up on social media ever more often, especially on TikTok.
Israel Police said on Sunday these wedding caravans were much more commonplace 15 years ago. But nowadays, rather than older family members picking up the blushing bride, younger relatives take it upon themselves to get the party started with hair-raising displays of reckless driving.
As part of Bedouin tradition, the groom and his family arrive at the bride's family home in single file to pick her up. The grander the caravan, the greater the respect for the bride's family.
Recent footage on social media shows members of a motorcade driving dangerously and even firing live rounds in the air.
The footage, however, also helps police track the culprits and bring them to justice.
Recently, the police arrested four suspects who were filmed during a fast and furious wedding joyride and their vehicles were seized.
“The police can’t station an officer at every junction. There wouldn’t be a policeman to stop these convoys on every road. But every person who drives recklessly and puts lives in danger will be put to trial,” said Chief Inspector Matti Tzarfati, commander of the Negev District Special Patrol Unit.
“Social media captures a singular event and presents it as if it were the norm. Many convoys proceed without such acts of recklessness."
The motorcades themselves don’t present a legal issue. In a video published in recent days, the police chief in the Bedouin city of Rahat, Chief Superintendent Amos Damari, is seen saying that police forces are coordinated with the convoys and no criminal activity will be allowed, unlike what is seen in the footage on social media.
Another phenomenon that is gaining popularity on TikTok is camel racing. The police, however, avoid interfering in the phenomenon although it includes illegal gambling and life-threatening behavior.