Anti-overhaul activists attacked with chairs, flagpoles as they protest minister

Hotel staff members beat demonstrators as Economy Minister Barkat, accompanied by staff from right-wing Kohelet think tank, meets with local authority leaders

An employee assaults a protester at the Pastoral Kfar Blum Hotel in northern Israel, on May 15 2023. (Screengrab via Maariv used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
An employee assaults a protester at the Pastoral Kfar Blum Hotel in northern Israel, on May 15 2023. (Screengrab via Maariv used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A number of employees at a hotel in the north on Monday assaulted a group of protesters against the judicial overhaul who were demonstrating against Economy Minister Nir Barkat, hurling chairs at them and using flagpoles to beat them.

The demonstrators, mainly older Israelis, arrived at the Pastoral Kfar Blum Hotel in northern Israel in order to confront Barkat, who was meeting with local authority officials.

Barkat was accompanied by members of the Kohelet Forum, the right-wing think tank that inspired the government’s contentious judicial overhaul.

Videos from scene showed hotel employees pushing the protesters and assaulting them with chairs and flagpoles. At least one older man was pushed to the ground.

Sources close to Barkat told Hebrew-language media that it took over 30 minutes for police to arrive to disperse the demonstration.

In addition, they noted that the Likud lawmaker had only a single bodyguard with him who would not have been able to handle a physical confrontation with the dozens of protesters.

In a statement, the hotel said that “the confrontation with the demonstrators got heated quickly, and the hotel employees felt threatened and reacted. The hotel is appalled by the incident, denounces violence in all its forms, and takes the incident and the employees’ violence very seriously.”

Last week, a demonstration was held outside Barkat’s Jerusalem home while he and other ministers met with a delegation from Harvard University.

Last month, two protesters were arrested after Barkat said he was attacked outside a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Economy Minister Nir Barkat arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on May 7, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Despite the cancellation of the main anti-overhaul protest in Tel Aviv amid fighting with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, demonstrators gathered throughout the country on Saturday evening to denounce the legislation.

Critics say the overhaul will sap the High Court of Justice of its power to act as a check and balance against parliament, dangerously eroding Israel’s democratic character. Supporters say the legislation is needed to rein in what they see as an activist court.

Protesters against the overhaul have been attacked on a number of occasions.

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