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

A young woman was beaten by a plainclothes police officer with some type of whip or stick during a mass protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against the government’s temporarily suspended judicial reform plans.

With footage of the incident being widely circulated, two plainclothes police officers close in on a young woman and a young man carrying signs and turn them away when one of the officers hits the woman in the upper body. Protesters who witnessed and documented police violence called for the officers to stop and argued with them about the use of force.

In the videos, the officer is shown hitting the woman once to knock her cardboard sign from her hands and then delivering another blow across her shoulder, causing her to cry out in pain. The man next to her puts his arm around her shoulders and she leads her crying to a group of protesters across the way who start shouting “shame!” by the police.

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

The police claimed in response to the footage that the woman hit 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 hung 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,” the police said in a statement. “The officer pushed the protester away with reasonable force.”

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

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated across the country on Saturday in a sign that the massive protest movement against judicial reform remained strong even as the coalition government suspended the legislation to allow dialogue on its highly divisive efforts to reform the system. to undermine justice.

And the opponents of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu very distrust for his overtures – and some of the coalition members promising to pick up soon right where they left off – protesters are demanding that instead of putting the legislation on break to weaken the courts and the politics of the selection of judges, the coalition shelves the bills completely.

The main rally took place for the 13th straight weekend on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street and Azrieli Junction, which was filled to the brim with demonstrators. Media reports indicated at least 170,000 and as many as 200,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv, while thousands more gathered in 150 venues across the country. Protest organizers claimed that there were over 400,000 demonstrations across the country, although such figures could not be confirmed.

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

Nineteen demonstrators were arrested.

In a new development, many demonstrators at the Tel Aviv protest on Saturday displayed American flags alongside Israelis, to express their support for the US in a week in which US President Joe Biden expressed his opposition to the Israeli government, which gave the right to. drop into Washington.

A protester holds an American flag at a rally against the Israeli government’s plan to reform the judicial system, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, April 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

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

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

“We have changed, we are the demonstrators, the protesters,” he said. “We ourselves did not imagine the amount of love that is hidden in us for the life that we managed to create here in Israel.”

Grossman said the massive demonstrations surprised the promoters of judicial reform, who had “made the mistake of their lives.”

Earlier, in Tel Aviv, a group of demonstrators exercised the national guard forces proposed by the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, which critics said could be the minister’s private militia.

A group of anti-government demonstrators play with the national guard forces proposed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir before a protest against a judicial reform planned by the government, in Tel Aviv, on April 1, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The hidden “troops” keep a goose-step display to the ominous Star Wars “Imperial March” tune.

Amid the anti-reform protests across the country, hundreds of protestors in favor of overhaul demonstrated on Weizmann Street in the city center of Kfar Saba. The demonstrators called on the government to end the reconciliation negotiations and continue with its controversial original plans.

The opposition parties have been in talks with the coalition mediated by President Isaac Herzog since Tuesday. Although talks are underway, few expect them to reach an agreement and confidence in Netanyahu’s good faith negotiations is very low.

Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, protest leaders compared the pause Netanyahu announced on Monday to the situation in Poland in 2017, when the president silenced protests against a judicial overhaul with vetoes and calls for unity, before enacting the government followed almost identical legislation.

Netanyahu said he was suspending the legislation on Monday as opposition to the judicial overhaul intensified with mass spontaneous protests that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets, followed by a national strike, after he shot Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who warned of the security implications. of the coalition’s proposals and asked that talks be stopped.

The premier indicated that the “time out” would last until the next session of the Knesset, starting April 30, meaning that the break would mostly occur when the Knesset would be in recess anyway .

But he emphasized that the reform would go “one way or another,” and that the “lost balance” between the branches of government would be restored. “We will not give up on the path we were chosen for,” he promised.

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