An Israel Police officer who was recorded on video beating a protester with his baton at the anti-judicial reform protest in Tel Aviv Saturday night was officially summoned on Sunday by the Police Investigations Department for questioning, Israeli media reported. This comes after Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai ordered Tel Aviv District Chief Ami Eshed on Sunday to investigate the incident.
After the incident, Labor Chairwoman Merav Michaeli demanded in a letter to Shabtai that the police officer be dealt with.
"According to reports and videos that were published, at the protest tonight, an extreme incident took place where a police officer violently attacked a protestor," she wrote. "This is an outrage, and I call on you to act with any means to make sure the incident is taken care of severely and that these sorts of incidents are not repeated."
Shabtai also ordered mounted officers to have cameras on their helmets to record future incidents of this kind for greater clarity in investigations.
Israel Police claimed that the protestor who was attacked had hit the horse with her sign in a way that endangered both the steed and its rider. They also sent photos that they said showed the horse's side which had cuts on it.
The woman who was attacked was identified as Yael Reuveni, a therapist who works at horse stables. Reuveni claimed that the cuts on the horse were caused by the riding officer's spurs.
"The police officer was looking for someone to take his frustration out on," she told N12. "He found the weak link, and that's where he chose to focus, to block me and hit me."
She added that the police accusations that she had endangered the horse were ridiculous.
"I work with horses as a therapist," she told N12. "The last thing I would do is attack a horse. I held a cardboard sign in front of me to protect myself from the horse after it stepped on my leg, and the police officer continued to hit me with his baton."
What does the footage show?
Videos from the incident show Reuveni walking with another man on Ayalon Highway closely followed by a police officer on a horse who is later joined by another. The police officer can be seen hitting Reuveni with his baton multiple times, and at some point, she can be seen stumbling. While Reuveni can be seen in videos holding a sign, the angle makes it unclear if she actually hit the horse with it.
"I really didn't like the images," said National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday morning. "In my eyes, this is very severe, and it doesn't matter if [the protestor] is left-wing or right-wing, for or against the judicial reform."
He added that he couldn't see a justified reason for Reuveni to be beaten with a baton and that he will ask for an explanation.