Danino denies excessive response to protests

Police chief says disturbances were planned; activist calls claims of violence by protesters "ridiculous."

Yochanan Danino 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yochanan Danino 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino broke his silence over last weekend’s social justice unrest, and offered backing to his officers in Tel Aviv over their handling of violent confrontations with activists.
“The events we experienced over the weekend do not remind us in any way of the wave of social protests that washed over the country in the summer of 2011,” Danino said, adding that riots and vandalism “have nothing in common with legitimate protests and freedom of expression.”
Danino accused activists involved in the weekend violence of plotting to break the law to create violent scenes, in order to “place the issue at the top of the national agenda, whatever the price.”
He said officers did not use too much force, adding that police have not changed since 2011, when virtually no violent incidents were noted during large-scale social justice rallies.
“Our policy is clear, we will allow any expression of legitimate protest, and at the same time, prosecute to the full anyone who breaks the law,” Danino said.
Responding to Danino’s comments, Liron Achdut, who was among 14 protesters brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday morning for her part in the protest the night before, said the remarks were “ridiculous.”
Achdut was charged with resisting arrest and striking Yarkon subdistrict police commander Yoram Ohayon in the face with a megaphone, both of which she denies.
In a photo and video widely posted online, Ahdut can be seen during her arrest being led away by a single riot police 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,” Achdut said Tuesday.
Achdut 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.”
Alon Lee Green, another one of the protesters brought before the court, 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 are holding an internal inquiry to assess their response to the unrest.