Israelis demonstrating against a return of Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to the premiership said they were assaulted in two different incidents on Saturday night.
It would be the second and third times that such assaults have taken place this month after anti-Netanyahu protesters had rocks thrown at them at a similar roadside demonstration on September 3. Police arrested a father and his teenage son in the attack that left two of the protesters lightly injured in the Rishon Lezion attack.
The first of two incidents on Saturday afternoon took place on Route 4’s Ramat Hadar Bridge outside Hod Hasharon where roughly 20 people were staging one of the dozens of rallies held on a weekly basis at bridges and junctions throughout the country.
The demonstrators said a group of suspects driving ATVs and motorcycles arrived at the scene, dismounted and began charging at them. The suspects swung their helmets, punched the demonstrators and threw some of them to the ground. At least one was lightly injured.
One of the protesters told the Ynet news site that the ATVs and motorcycles did not have license plates. “One of them kicked one of the [older protesters]. I stood in the middle of the bridge, blocking him so he couldn’t pass. He then hit me in the head with his helmet. This is the reality, Israel 2022,” he said.
Police were called to the scene but arrived after the suspects managed to flee. They opened an investigation.
אשר יגורנו בא, האלימות התחילה וסופה מי ישורנו. אב ומשפחתו עצרו מתחת לגשר ראשונים עליו הפגננו ולאחר שצעקותיהם והקללות נשארו ללא תגובה החלו לזרוק אבנים ועלו לגשר כדי להתחיל תיגרה. מפגיני הגשר הבריחו אותם לא לאחר ששנים מהם נפצעו. האם אנחנו על סף מלחמת אחים? pic.twitter.com/e5ifGrxSb2
— Shaul amir (@shauli7) September 3, 2022
In another incident at HaOgen Junction outside Netanya, an anti-Netanyahu demonstrator said a young man got out of his car and began swearing at her. He then spit on the woman, grabbed her sign that read “No, Bibi. Yes, change.” and lit it on fire. It was unclear whether police were investigating the incident as well.
The Crime Minister group, which helps organize the weekly protesters said afterward, “When Netanyahu’s poison machine incites and normalizes the most extreme elements, it’s no wonder that violence runs rampant. However, we will not be deterred. We will return en masse to the bridges and intersections to make sure he does not return.”
Anti-Netanyahu activists have been physically attacked in the past by right-wing activists, particularly during the height of their demonstrations in 2020 when the now-opposition leader still held the premiership.
Recent polling indicates that neither the anti-Netanyahu parties nor factions loyal to the former prime minister are likely to garner enough seats in the Knesset to form a government after the upcoming election — the fifth since 2019. However, the right-wing, religious bloc led by Netanyahu has appeared to gain some ground in recent weeks, inching closer to the 61-MK majority needed to form a coalition.