Israeli Man Indicted for Pepper Spray Attack on anti-Netanyahu Protesters

The accused says he was influenced by incitement, angered by 'damage to state symbols,' and admitted to spraying the demonstrators, but with window cleaner

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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Demonstrators at a pro-Likud rally hold up a sign that reads 'A good leftist is a dead leftist!! Traitors!!,' October 2020.
Demonstrators at a pro-Likud rally hold up a sign that reads 'A good leftist is a dead leftist!! Traitors!!,' October 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

An indictment was filed on Tuesday against a 34-year-old man for assaulting protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a demonstration in July.

The defendant, Eliran Kambisis, is accused of pepper spraying protesters from a car as it drove by a protest site in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, although he asserts that he sprayed them with window cleaner.

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Footage of the attack in Ramat Gan, July 2020Credit: Bar Peleg

Kambisis is the first individual charged with attacking protesters to have claimed that he was compelled by incitement.

According to the indictment, Kambisis was arrested a few hours after the incident, which was documented by protesters, and confessed to spraying the protesters, but insisted that he had not used pepper spray.

When questioned by police, he admitted to spraying the protesters, saying he was angered by their “offense to state symbols,” likely a reference to another demonstration in Jerusalem a few days prior to the Ramat Gan protest, in which a protester climbed the menorah statue outside the Knesset and removed her top.

Anti-Netanyahu demonstrators protest in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, October 17, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Kambisis said he had been influenced by incitement on social media and expressed remorse for his actions, according to a source.

In the hearing regarding the extension of his detention, he said “I did not try to spray them. It was a mistake and not intentional. I apologize.”

The protester who documented the incident, Sharon, said he was filming the protest when he saw “people [who] were on the front line of the security barrier” moving backwards and covering their faces. “My eyes and throat also started burning, and we understood someone had sprayed pepper spray.” He added that in the footage he captured “you can see the window on the passenger side open and the driver extending his hand and spraying. There were women, men and children there who were hurt.”

The indictment is the second indictment filed this week in connection with attacks on anti-Netanyahu protesters, and the fourth since the recent wave of weekly protests that began in July near the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem and have since proliferated across the country, despite large numbers of violent attacks on protesters having been reported.

On Monday, the police indicted a 54-year-old man for assaulting anti-Netanayahu demonstrators at a protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday. He allegedly arrived to the protest site inebriated, shouted at protesters, and proceeded to punch one of them, a 66-year-old man, in the face.

An indictment was also filed this week against two anti-Netanyahu demonstrators, Shai Arel and a minor, for causing harm to a Netanyahu supporter who was demonstrating near the prime minister's official residence. The indictment alleges that they had surrounded the woman and pulled the plastic chair she had been sitting on out from under her.

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