The Meretz Party on Sunday called on the Public Security Ministry to open an investigation into the actions of police amid reports of violence directed at anti-war protesters during a demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday night.
Calling for an investigation, Meretz head Zehava Gal-On said, “It’s unacceptable that the police, instead of fulfilling their duty to protect protesters and their right to demonstrate, instead abandon them and defend the rioters.”
The Labor Party also issued a letter on Sunday, calling on the attorney-general, the Israel Police and the state attorney to probe the incident.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s spokesman said that they didn’t know about the complaint issued by Meretz but that they would handle it “as is fitting, and not through the press.”
Tel Aviv Police denied the claims by activists that they were beaten by counter-protesters and that police did not intervene, saying that the protest was not approved, and that after the rocket siren at 7:10 people scattered to different places and that fights then broke out. They added that if there weren’t arrests, it’s because there wasn’t reason to arrest anyone and that they haven’t received any complaints of violence.
Journalist and activist Haggai Matar disagreed, saying that the violence started with threats and some shoving and that during the rocket siren, after police scattered, fights broke out in a number of different places.
He added that protesters asked police to call backup and told them they were worried they’d be attacked, but police did not heed their call.
He also dismissed the police claim that they haven’t received complaints, saying that he saw police pull aside people who had assaulted protesters, and then let them go without arrest.
Channel 1 reporter Dudi Nissim, who was broadcasting next to the protest when the fights began, said that the violence was started by the rightwing protesters, who he said seemed to come looking for a fight and were the ones using violence. He said that they chased one person into the nearby Nehama Vahetzi café and beat the person inside the establishment.
When asked if it’s true the police didn’t fulfill their duties, he differed with Meretz, saying that the entire fracas lasted about five minutes and that police did manage to separate the two sides, behaving as expected for such a situation.
One of the people at the center of the right-wing counter- protest was rapper Yoav Eliasi, better known by his stage name “The Shadow.”
Ahead of the protest Eliasi called for people to come to the square, saying that “at 8 p.m.
we’ll be there in full force like lions.”
The morning after the protest, amid reports of violence and attacks on left-wing protesters, he wrote on his Facebook page that the police officers at the scene “were great to us and we could see on the faces of the riot cops the pride and satisfaction they felt towards us.”
Eliasi thanked the far-right group Lahava for taking part in the protest as well as what he said were a group of Betar FC fans, Kahanists, and other far-rightists.
He added: “Together we are a force against the real enemy that circles among us – the radical Left.”