A violent altercation broke out in the Knesset on Tuesday between disability rights groups, with one disabled activist attempting to stab another with a pen before being removed from a parliamentary committee meeting.
The disability rights advocates were attending a meeting of the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee to discuss a proposed increase in welfare benefits.
Knesset security personnel were forced to break up the fight and restrain some of the activists after a disagreement over the benefits took a violent turn. One man, Arik Harari, was ejected from the session after the pen-stabbing attempt.
Harari later claimed he acted in self-defense. He said he witnessed someone grabbing an activist from his group, prompting him to respond.
Outside in the Knesset hallway, the fighting continued, with one person trying to attack another with a glass bottle, forcing security officials to again intervene.
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Knesset ushers were injured while trying to separate the activists, Hadashot news reported.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein released a video statement condemning the incident, saying he was shocked by the violence.
“The Knesset is a place for discussion and debate, but never a place for violence,” he said. “With all due respect to the importance of the struggle of the disabled — which is a very emotional issue, like other struggles — nobody is permitted to use violence. I call on the leaders of the issue to condemn those who behave in this way.”
Committee chairman Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf was forced to end the committee meeting due to the brawl.
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, a member of the committee, later condemned the outburst, while stressing that those hurt by the incident were the disabled people themselves, after the committee was unable to discuss his proposed law to raise the disability allowance.
Disabled Israelis have been holding a months-long protest to press the government to match their allowances to minimum wage. Demonstrations have included blocking highways nationwide in a bid to bring the issue to the fore.