Israeli Man Indicted for Assaulting anti-Netanyahu Protester in Tel Aviv

Police say they've filed 'string of indictments' related to dozens of cases of violence against anti-gov't protesters, but only two people have been charged with such offenses

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Protesters in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, October 17, 2020.
Protesters in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, October 17, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

A 54-year-old man from Tel Aviv was charged on Monday in the violent assault of an anti-government protester, only the second such indictment to be filed since the beginning of the demonstrations, despite numerous incidents and police declarations committing to protesters' safety.

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On Monday, police said this joined "a string of indictments" related to violence against anti-Netanyahu protesters, which despite dozens of incidents, has led to almost no legal proceedings, Haaretz revealed last week. Yet, besides the indictment filed against 20-year-old Felix Eliav for the attempted stabbing of a protester in July, the only other charge recently brought was against a 23-year-old anti-Netanyahu protester, who was released after the court ruled she had been provoked. 

According to police, the 54-year-old man confronted protesters in Tel Aviv on October 17 while he was intoxicated. He allegedly punched one of them, a 66-year-old man, in the face. When the protester tried to defend himself, the man hurt his hand, according to police. 

The defendant “cursed the police officers non-stop” on the way to the police station, a police statement said, leading the force to request that he stay in detention until the end of the legal proceedings against him.

Protesters seen in Haifa in October, 2020.Credit: Rami Shlosha

The man was part of a dozen people that were arrested on suspicion of attacking or threatening protesters on Saturday, including one man who was carrying a knife.

“The indictment joins a string of indictments filed by the police recently against defendants who acted violently against protesters," the police said, adding it viewed "violence of any type seriously, especially that which is intended on harming the freedom to protest." 

The other person charged by police this week was accused of throwing food at a right-wing activist and damaging another counter-demonstrator's cell phone in the port city of Haifa on Saturday.

A confrontation between anti-Netanyahu protesters and counter-demonstrators, Haifa, October 17, 2020

The court did not follow the police's recommendation to remand the 23-year-old woman into custody for five days, and released her on Tuesday, ruling that she had only "responded to provocation." The counter-demonstrator she threw food at had spat at her first, and was also arrested. They were released, on condition they would not seek to contact the protester and would stay away from demonstrations for the next two weeks. 

Haaretz has learned that another indictment is now being drafted against Eliran Cambesis, who is suspected of assaulting demonstrators using tear gas at the Aluf Sadeh junction in Tel Aviv. After Haaretz's Hebrew edition reported last week that the case file was still waiting for prosecutors, witnesses and those who filed the complaints in the case were summoned again for questioning to complete the investigation. Most of the questions involved identifying people in a video of the incident, which occurred at the end of July – and in which children were injured.

A man sprays tear gas out of his car on anti-Netanyahu protesters, Aluf Sadeh junction, July 2020

In addition, the police will not file an appeal against the release to house arrest of Yuval Shmul, the Wolt delivery person who is suspected of spraying protesters with tear gas – including a 12-year-old girl. He spent two nights in jail after his arrest.

A large number of violent incidents directed against protesters took place at demonstrations all over Israel on Saturday: A resident of Jerusalem threw a rock and eggs at protesters at the Patt junction in the south of the capital; a resident of Bat Yam sprayed tear gas at protesters on Yefet Street in Jaffa; an unknown person sprayed pepper spray at protesters in Ramat Gan – and two were injured; and fireworks were thrown at protesters and passersby at the Habima Square in Tel Aviv after a demonstration was held there.

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