38 anti-Netanyahu protesters arrested, several attacked

Numerous demonstrators left injured after being attacked by some opposing the protests • Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was slightly injured during protests amid the havoc that ensued.

Anti-Netanyahu protester in Tel Aviv confronts Israel Police (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Anti-Netanyahu protester in Tel Aviv confronts Israel Police
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
A total of 38 protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "failed" leadership were arrested on Saturday night as clashes broke out in Tel Aviv and violence erupted at a handful of protest locations among over a thousand throughout the country.
Police released 37 of those arrested, all taken from the Tel Aviv protests, on Sunday morning. One protester was kept in police custody under suspicion of attacking police officers. He will be brought to court to have his arrest extended later in the day.
A woman was attacked by a man who opposed the protests in the Ramat Hachayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. The attacker had been walking – with his wife and child – through the area where dozens of protesters had gathered. He then attacked the woman and her husband, injuring both.
He took the horn that the woman had been blowing into and pushed it into her face, cutting her across the cheek, and broke a flag over the head of her husband. Both were evacuated from the protest and received first aid.
The attacker then reportedly continued to walk away and a couple of protesters followed him with a camera until police arrived. When they did, the attacker claimed the protesters had attacked him. One of the demonstrators who had followed him to make sure he stayed in the vicinity was taken into police custody.
THROUGHOUT THE country, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at their nearest bridges and junctions to protest. This comes after the Knesset passed a bill stating that, due to the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown, protesters may only demonstrate within a one-kilometer radius of their homes.
The insistence of the government to uphold this rule has caused fury across the nation, as many claim it to be an unfounded attempt to mute the voices of the angry public.
“There is no logic to the arbitrary decision,” the Black Flags Movement spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post regarding the one-kilometer decision. “It is only the logic of an accused man who is trying to stop the protests against him. Despite this, we call everyone to go out and protest according to the restrictions.”
Others, however, believe that it is a necessary coronavirus precaution.
Brig.-Gen. Asaf Agmon (res.), who has participated in dozens of protests – and has been one of the lead organizers of the demonstrations across from the Prime Minister’s Official Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem – told the Post following the violent incident in Tel Aviv that he believes the police are not properly defending the country’s citizens equally and fairly.
“This is part of the prime minister’s incitement,” said Agmon, a leader in the “No Way” political organization. “Today, a recording came out of Likud-supporter groups telling other Netanyahu supporters to come to the protests and to act in violence. Israel Police have not acted against this until now. We call on our people to be careful and be ready. Why is the Police not protecting the people?”
He further explained that he does not feel he can trust the Police to protect the people at this point. “As someone who served in the defense forces for over 50 years, my obvious answer should be ‘yes,’” he said. “However, the results are proving otherwise.”
A NUMBER of other violent incidents have occurred surrounding protests throughout the country. In Ness Ziona, a man attempted to fight with protesters, allegedly because they were making too much noise. He ignored police, who instructed him to stand by, and so he was arrested.
“In the State of Israel, the police are responsible for securing the safety of protesters and to allow them the freedom to protest,” a Black Flags Movement spokesperson told the Post. “We send a letter every week to the Police with protest locations with a demand for protection – and as usual, the police do not do their job.”
Another couple of men in Hadera claimed the protesters in their area were making too much noise and proceeded to assault them. They only stepped away when the police were called to the scene. Later in the same location, demonstrators reported that passersby had thrown stones at them. Once police arrived, however, the stone-throwers had run away.
Pardes Hana saw a protester get his hand broken by an anti-protest attacker. Police arrested a young man suspected of perpetrating the attack. He is currently being investigated.
Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, Holon and Haifa all saw violent incidents as well at the time of writing.
TEL AVIV protests, in the meantime, saw clashes between protesters and police throughout the evening and nighttime. At the time of writing, 15 protesters had been taken into police custody, and even more were fined for either not wearing masks or being farther from their homes than the legal limit.
Bar Peleg, a reporter for the Israeli publication Haaretz, was fined for not social distancing, despite showing a press pass, which should legally allow him to enter and walk among protesters.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was slightly injured during protests amid the havoc that ensued.
Netanyahu “and his group of inciters that surround him are responsible for every drop of blood that was shed in the past week,” the Black Flags Movement said in response to the escalations at protests. “Israel Police massively failed to protect the demonstrators. After the events of the previous week, the question arises whether this is incapability to protect the public or lack of desire to do so.”
“Sadly, throughout all of the protests, police were busy – and this is a generalization, it’s not true everywhere – acting against protesters, sometimes illegally and sometimes violently,” Agmon told the Post.
“Police units are mobilized in different areas of the country in order to deal with the demonstrations and make sure that all safety, health and security measures are being kept, with social distancing, staying one kilometer from one’s house, and masks being worn at all times,” Israel Police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld told the Post. “Anyone not wearing a mask will be fined.”
Protesters throughout the country reported that they had been verbally assaulted by passersby, including those that drove by them. Demonstrators in Rishon Lezion reported that a vehicle repeatedly drove past them with someone inside comparing them to “Nazi Germany.”
This comes after Thursday protests during which one demonstrator was run over. She required medical assistance on the spot as the attacker drove away unidentified.