Mounted police officer beats protester at anti-government demonstration Tel Aviv

A mounted police officer struck a young woman with what appears to be a whip or some sort of baton during a mass protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against the government’s temporarily paused judicial overhaul plans.

In widely circulating footage of the incident, two mounted police officers close in on a young woman and young man carrying signs and push them back when one of the officers strikes the woman in the upper body. Protesters who witnessed and documented the police violence shouted at the officers to stop and argued with them about the use of force.

In the videos, the officer is shown striking at the woman one time to knock her cardboad sign from her hands and then delivering another blow across her shoulder, to which she cries out in pain. The man next to her puts his arm around her shoulders and leads her crying to a group of protesters across the way who begin shouting “shame!” at the police.

In one clip, the mounted officer is seen pushing the woman back and she puts up her hands and the cardboard sign to put distance between herself and the horse.

Police claimed in response to the footage that the woman struck the horse in the head and the officer responded accordingly. No such action was seen in the videos of the incident.

“After being warned that this was an illegal demonstration and that force would be used, two protesters waved protest signs and a flag on a pole at the head of a police horse, in a way that endangered the horse, the rider, and the protesters themselves,” police said in a statement. “The officer pushed the protester away using reasonable force.”

In a tweet late Saturday, the health reporter for the public broadcaster Kan, Nov Reuveny, said the young woman was his younger sibling and he hoped the “bully who trampled my little sister tonight and then beat her with the whip again, and again” would not be able to sleep for many nights “because of shame.”

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated throughout the country on Saturday in a sign that the massive protest movement against the judicial overhaul remained strong even as the coalition has paused the legislation to allow dialogue on its highly divisive efforts to weaken the justice system.

With opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highly distrustful of his overtures — and some coalition members vowing to soon pick up right where they left off — protesters are demanding that instead of pausing the legislation to weaken the courts and politicize judge selection, the coalition shelve the bills completely.

The main rally was held for the 13th straight weekend on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street and Azrieli Junction, which were filled to the brim with demonstrators. Media reports indicated at least 170,000 and up to some 200,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv, while tens of thousands more rallied in 150 locations across the country. Protest organizers claimed over 400,000 demonstrated nationwide, though such figures could not be corroborated.

Hundreds of protesters briefly blocked the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv at several points throughout the evening, before being removed by police.

Nineteen demonstrators were arrested.

In a new development, many demonstrators at Saturday’s Tel Aviv protest also waved American flags alongside Israeli ones, to voice their support for the US on a week that saw US President Joe Biden express his opposition to the Israeli government’s conduct, which led the right to lash out at Washington.

At a rally in Jerusalem, world-renowned author David Grossman said the architects of the shakeup had “made the mistake of their lives” in awakening Israel’s liberals into action.

Invoking a famous quote from the Haggadah of this week’s Passover holiday, Grossman said: “Why is this night different from other nights?”

“We have changed, we the demonstrators, the protesters,” he said. “We ourselves did not imagine the extent of love hidden inside us for the life that we’ve been able to create here in Israel.”

Grossman said the mass demonstrations have come as a shock to the judicial overhaul’s instigators, who have made “the mistake of their lives.”

Earlier, in Tel Aviv, a group of demonstrators play-acted the national guard forces proposed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, which critics have said could amount to the minister’s private militia.

The masked “troops” hold a goose-stepping display to the tune of Star Wars’ menacing “Imperial March.”

Amid the nationwide anti-overhaul protests, hundreds of pro-overhaul protesters demonstrated on Weizmann Street in the central city of Kfar Saba. The demonstrators called on the government to cease the compromise negotiations and carry on with its original controversial plans.

Opposition parties have been engaged in talks with the coalition mediated by President Isaac Herzog since Tuesday. Though talks are ongoing, few expect them to yield an agreement and trust in Netanyahu negotiating in good faith is exceedingly low.

Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, protest leaders likened the pause announced by Netanyahu on Monday to the situation in Poland in 2017, where the president silenced protests against a judicial overhaul with a veto and calls for unity, before the government later enacted almost identical legislation

Source Link:

Recommended For You