Two Held in Assaults on anti-Netanyahu Protesters in Central Israel, One for the Second Time

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A Netanyahu supporter attacking anti-Netanyahu protesters with pepper spray in Holon, October 13, 2020.
A Netanyahu supporter attacking anti-Netanyahu protesters with pepper spray in Holon, October 13, 2020.

Two men who were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly assaulting protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon were ordered Wednesday to remain in custody for two days.

Police investigators say that Osher Gal sprayed tear gas at protesters. Gal initially denied the allegation, but after detectives showed him video of the incident he said that he had acted out of self-defense.

Aviv Haliwa allegedly assaulted a protester and ripped up a protest sign. A few weeks ago he was arrested and questioned on suspicion of throwing objects at protesters from his car on two occasions.

Both men are 22 and live in Holon, and neither one has a criminal record.

Judge Anat Yahav of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court said at the men’s detention hearing Wednesday that the video from the incident involving Gal seems to show that he was not assaulted first and that he planned the attack in advance. That suggestion, she said, was supported by his possession of the tear gas.

One of the protesters that Gal allegedly sprayed required medical treatment.

As for Haliwa, Yahav said that while his assault may not have caused any real physical harm, “the suspect has a number of other violent incidents, two from the same week, in which, while he was driving in the area of the demonstration, he threw from his car window objects, some of which are unidentified and some of which appear to be eggs.”

The judge said the violent incidents seem to be getting worse as time goes on, and the violence is escalating – and a line needs to be drawn.

A policeman who was stationed at the Meditech Junction in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon witnessed the incident and arrested the assailant, who was there to attend a counter-demonstration in support of Netanyahu. Three other pro-Netanyahu demonstrators were also arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace.

Last week Haaretz reported that four months into the mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and only one person has been indicted for attacking protesters despite the dozens of assaults, some of them filmed. The only indictment so far has been against Felix Eliav, a Sderot resident suspected of attacking a demonstrator with a sharp object.

Demonstrators have told Haaretz that they believe the police are taking sides regarding the protests against Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, against the backdrop of his ongoing corruption trial.

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