Fourteen people were charged on Sunday with disturbing the peace and taking part
in an illegal protest in Tel Aviv, a day after a march against police violence
spun out of control, with activists blocking the Ayalon expressway and smashing
windows at three banks as police used force to clear streets and make 89
The 89 arrested included more than 30 who were driven away from
city hall in a Dan bus that had been commandeered by police.
All of them
were released on Sunday night. In a rare move for a case involving non-serious
crimes, police sought an extension of the 14 activists’ remand until the end of
the proceedings against them. The court denied the request.
Four of the
defendants also face charges of obstructing a police officer in his duty, four
are charged with assaulting a police officer, one for resisting arrest and
another for assaulting a public servant.
None of them face charges
connected to the vandalism that took place Saturday night.
Ouziel of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court said that he did not see a reason to
keep the defendants in jail, as they are all young people with no criminal
records and the indictments did not prove that they posed a threat to
Each of the 14 was released on a NIS 1,500 bond and banned from
taking part in illegal protests.
Ouziel said, “Freedom of speech and the
right to demonstrate are basic rights that cannot be infringed upon. That said,
these are not unlimited rights and those who chose to use them must ensure that
they do so while also adhering to the law, and without harming public order and
the public’s sense of security.”
Attorney Barak Cohen, who is
representing a number of the defendants and is himself a well-known social
activist, said at the courthouse on Sunday that the request to hold them until
the end of legal procedures was “ridiculous for crimes like this.”
was photographed at Saturday night’s protest with a bloody nose that he said he
received from an errant punch from a police officer. He said he felt the request
to hold the protesters was made because “the leadership has no interest in us
going out into the streets, and we won’t give up on our desire to hit the
streets and we will fight them on this.”
Yigal Rambam, one of the more
prominent leaders of last summer’s social protests, said, “What the system is
doing is causing the public to realize that change won’t be accomplished by
asking the leadership to change things. People must head out into the streets
and demand change and get people out of their comfort zone.”
The Jerusalem Post in a corridor outside the remand hearing, Rambam said the
government’s 94- MK coalition is a sign of panic and hysteria, but added that if
the protest movement is to succeed, “it needs to have a clear operational plan
for people to get behind.”
He blamed Saturday night’s violence on police,
but said, “I am in favor of blocking traffic and disturbing the peace. I am
against harming living objects, though.” Rambam added that bank buildings are
“absolutely” a legitimate target.
Moments later he fought with security
personnel who tried to prevent him from entering the courtroom.
few minutes of shouting, the guards let Rambam in to observe the
Saturday night’s march was the most violent encounter between
social justice demonstrators and police since the protest movement began last
summer, with more than 2,000 people clashing with police in several spots in
central Tel Aviv. Protesters were demonstrating against police brutality, a day
after J14 social justice leader Daphni Leef was arrested at a heated protest,
during which scuffles broke out between police and activists.
Friday’s and Saturday’s protests police were seen striking participants and
handling them roughly, though no crowd dispersal weapons were
Amnesty International’s Israeli branch sent a letter on Sunday to
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch saying it was concerned that
police were “using much violence” to repress freedom of speech and
The letter, signed by Amnesty Israel’s director Yonatan Gher,
said the organization condemned violence “of all types,” and criticized
vandalism on the part of social justice protesters.
“However, there is
much evidence that... serious violence used by police on Friday and Saturday
night went beyond ‘reasonable use of force,’ especially in cases when it was
indiscriminately,” the letter continued.
despite the unfortunate violence on the part of protesters, violence by police
officers should not be seen in an equal light, since the former constitutes a
breaking of the law while the latter constitutes a violation of human rights,”
He called on the public security minister to swiftly formulate
instructions to police to ensure that basic human rights of protesters are
Yarkon police subdistrict chief Cmdr.
Yoram Ohayon on
Sunday denied reports that police used excessive violence in dealing with
“Police brutality is not a term in our lexicon,” he
Responding to activists’ complaints that the authorities have
decided to silence the movement, Ohayon said: “There is no change in policy in
dealing with the protest.”
Tel Aviv police spokesman Moshe Katz said
marchers on Saturday ignored calls to disperse and continued to block the roads
and confront police officers.
A law enforcement source said on Sunday
that protesters who allege they were the victims of police brutality can submit
complaints to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations
The comment came after the Post asked the source whether
police acknowledged that there were instances of abuse during the
confrontations, citing video footage showing a policeman shaking and choking a
woman before arresting her.
“Such investigations [into allegations of
police brutality] are not under our authority,” the source said. “Complaints can
be filed to the PID and the evidence will be examined.”
protest was one of the more significant events for the movement, which is still
less than a year old. On Sunday, both the vandalism of activists and the
violence of police were criticized by leading figures from the
The National Union of Israeli Students’ Itzik Shmuli said that
while there is a great deal of anger and frustration in Israel surrounding the
issue of social justice, the violence on display Saturday night was
“The protest and its goals are just, but this method of
using violence [also as an answer to police violence] is illegitimate,” he
Shmuli vowed that students would still take a leading role in the
protests but that they would not endorse such methods as vandalism or scuffling
“There are effective methods for influencing the state other
than breaking windows and fighting with police,” he said.
Stav Shafir on Sunday denounced the protester violence in Tel Aviv the night
before, but accused the government of trying to delegitimize the social protest
“We are opposed to all expression of violence and destruction
of property,” Shafir said in a statement. “The government, and its leader, are
trying to delegitimize the largest social protest in Israel’s
Saying that the government wants to silence criticism, Shafir
added, “The events of last night prove that the public does not buy these lies
and it is determined to struggle toward the future of Israeli society, and the
right to organize in the public sphere.”