University Heads: Decision on Fate of Semester Only After Strike Ends

Strike expected to last into next week in wake of violent clash between students and police at T.A. rally.

The fate of the academic semester will be decided only after the students' strike ends, university presidents agreed on Thursday. The strike is expected to continue into next week, following violent clashes with police during a protest march in Tel Aviv Wednesday night.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir on Thursday called on the police to investigate that incident, saying: "It appears that the police used unreasonable force in order to disperse the student demonstration."

The demonstration on Wednesday began as a rally near the Tel Aviv Museum, an event which was authorized by the police. It was spontaneously transformed into a march in which thousands of students took to the city's streets, blocking traffic on main arteries such as Ibn Gvirol, roads to the Arlozorov train station and exits to the Ayalon Highway.

"I have no doubt that the police were in an impossible situation, and that the students lost control over what was taking place," Tamir said. "Therefore, the police need to examine and give an accounting of what took place there."

Tomer Tziter, chairman of the Technion's student union, said that at the start of the march, he was thrown to the ground by riot police. "More officers came and I was kicked in the legs and the abdomen. My friends tried to protect me and they were also beaten," he said. He was also hit in the jaw and the upper body, and lost consciousness.

Other students who sat in the road in protest reported that they were forcibly dragged away and kicked by the police. A student from Haifa said that she was held up against a wall near the Ayalon Highway and a policeman beat her.

The students are now busy collecting testimonies from their colleagues, and Tziter said that they will file a complaint with the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department.

Itai Barda, chairman of the national student union, said that the march and the blocking of the roads were not planned events, but something that occurred in the heat of the moment. He added that there are no plans to block more roads, "but we are planning mass demonstrations, which will intensify as we approach the publication of the Winograd Committee report."

The Winograd Committee, which is investigating the Second Lebanon War, is due to issue its interim report on Monday.

Meanwhile, secondary school teachers will work today, but will resume their strike on Sunday in the Jerusalem district for grades 7-12, except in ORT and Amal schools.