Police chief Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino called Saturday night's altercation between police and social protesters in Tel Aviv an event bent on vandalism, violating the law and "chaos," not a valid protest.
Danino made his comments at a conference hosted by the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The police inspector-general denied that the police has used excessive force and noted that the police are there to secure protesters safety as they did all last summer.
He said that social protests cannot turn into chaos and destroying other people's property or trying to push around law enforcement officials.
Danino also accused the social protest movement of trying to force social issues back on to the national agenda, at any cost, even using violence.
At the same time, Danino suggested that videos taken of the altercation suggested that some specific police actions might have been imprudent, pointing out that the police will review all of their actions that night as they always do.
Liron Ahdut was among 14 protesters brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday morning for her part in the protest the night before. Ahdut was charged with resisting arrest and striking Yarkon subdistrict commander Yoram Ohayon in the face with a megaphone, both of which she denies outright.
In a video widely shared online, Ahdut can be seen during her arrest being led away by a single YASSAM officer, while smiling broadly, the two walking arm-in-arm.
“The complaints about violence from protesters are ridiculous. We didn’t come to fight police and that is something that doesn’t interest us. We are people who want a better future, we are not violent people,” Ahdut said Tuesday.
Ahdut added that since Saturday night’s protest “hundreds of photos and videos of police violence have been released but police have not been able to show one video or photo of attacks on police. If they had proof they’d show it.”
Another one of the 14 protesters, Alon Lee Green, said Tuesday that “there was not and still isn’t any intention on our part to use violence. The only violence there has been so far has been from the police and the municipality clerks. Our only goal was to exercise our rights to protest for social justice.”
Police have launched an assessment of their controversial response to the social justice rally, which ended in major unrest and violent clashes over the weekend in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv district police have come under fire by protesters and their supporters, who said that the rally was met with a heavy-handed response, and that officers were unprepared for the event.
Police arrested 85 people on Saturday night after activists blocked roads and damaged bank storefronts.
The assessment into the police’s response is being held by both Tel Aviv police district, and national police headquarters in Jerusalem. A spokesman from Tel Aviv police confirmed that an evaluation of the police’s response was under way, adding that “like in all inquiries, we are seeking to learn lessons.”
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld added, “One of the things we’re looking at is how one event can lead to another developing event.”
Rosenfeld referred to a small gay and lesbian rally held in Tel Aviv on Friday, which was quickly joined by hundreds of social justice protesters, and ended in clashes with police, a development which set the stage for Saturday’s disturbances.
“We will have to see how next time we will coordinate with social justice leaders to contain events,” he added.
Police are also concerned about the possibility that one major social justice event can cause a “ripple effect” in other districts, Rosenfeld added. District chiefs are planning to communicate and coordinate with one another to ensure that police are ready for such a scenario.
“If there are claims that more force was used than necessary, that should be looked at by the Police Investigations Department,” Rosenfeld added.