Anti-Netanyahu protest leaders indicted for attacking, disturbing police

"Israel Police is becoming an executive arm of Benjamin Netanyahu's criminal and evil organization."

Israeli police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 14, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Israeli police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 14, 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Two leaders of the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had indictments filed against them by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.
Gonen Ben Yitzhak was indicted for interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duty and for being at a prohibited gathering, while Bar Binyamin was indicted for aggravated assault against a police officer and for being at a prohibited gathering.
According to the indictment filed against Ben Yitzhak, on July 18 a mass demonstration took place near Paris Square in Jerusalem. Around midnight, police forces began removing the protesters, as they announced to the demonstrators over loudspeakers that the demonstration was illegal and that they must leave.
Many protesters, including the defendant, did not respond to police calls and continued to demonstrate. The police made subsequent announcements to the demonstrators, but protesters continued to make noise using whistles, drums and by shouting.
At 12:05 a.m., police commander Kobi Yaakovi ordered for the water cannon to be moved in the direction of the intersection where the demonstrators stood. The police repeated their announcement to the crowd and prepared to use the cannon on the demonstrators, should they not withdraw from the protest.
Following this, the defendant called on other demonstrators to run toward the water cannon. The defendant stood in front of the water cannon and blocked its path.
Subsequently, the defendant laid down under the water cannon and wrapped his hands around part of the cannon’s bore, with the intention of preventing it from progressing further and to stop it from being used.
Despite the repeated demands of the police officers, the defendant refused to release his grip on the water cannon and leave the premises. The police officers were then force to pry the defendant off the cannon and remove him from the protest.
THE INDICTMENT filed against Binyamin concerned a mass demonstration that took place near the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street on September 20, in which many people protested in the vicinity of the residence and on side streets.
At about midnight, the police announced to those protesting that the demonstration was now illegal, and that the demonstrators must clear the roads so that traffic could resume.
At around 12:40 a.m., police began removing protesters who did not obey the police’s orders and remained standing or sitting on the roads, including the defendant, who was standing at the time with other protesters on a road near Paris Square.
One of the policemen at the scene approached Binyamin and asked her to get off the road. The defendant refused and the policeman told her that if she would not do so of her own free will, he would be compelled to evacuate her by force.
The defendant insisted on refusing to vacate, and as a result the policeman began to remove her from the road. The policeman put his hand on the defendant’s back to remove her, and she, in response, turned toward him, took out her pepper spray and sprayed it in his face while trying to flee the scene.
“The decision to file the indictments was made in accordance with the State Attorney’s Office’s policy when it comes to dealing with offenses committed in the context of demonstrations, as reflected in the State Attorney’s Deputy Directorate (Special Positions),” said the Attorney’s Office. “This policy was established with the aim of properly balancing the basic right of every citizen in Israel to participate in demonstrations and express themselves freely, and the public interest in preserving public safety and property, the rule of law and public order.”
The Black Flag protest movement condemned the legal proceedings.
“A black flag hovers over the actions of the ‘Netanyahu police.’ The Israeli government, through [Jerusalem Police chief] Doron Yadid, is pursuing the leaders of the anti-corruption protest,” the Black Flag movement said. “Israel Police is becoming an executive arm of Benjamin Netanyahu's criminal and evil organization. [Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny] Gantz, [Foreign Minister Gabi] Ashkenazi and [Justice Minister Avi] Nissenkorn should be ashamed of cooperating with this political persecution.”