Police chief blames ‘group not linked to hostage families’ for violence at Tel Aviv protest

Police use a water cannon to disperse protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government, in Tel Aviv, on February 24, 2024. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Police use a water cannon to disperse protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government, in Tel Aviv, on February 24, 2024. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai tells senior officers that a group of protesters not identified with the families of hostages “dragged” police into clashes during a protest Saturday night in Tel Aviv, amid allegations of excessive force.

In a statement issued by police, Shabtai says that a “huge wound” was formed in society after October 7, “and it is our duty to find the balance between maintaining the law and public order and the required compassion in a complicated situation amid the pain the nation has found itself in.”

Responding to reports that family members of hostages and of those killed in the Hamas attack were injured in clashes with police, Shabtai says that “none of us will allow the mother of a hostage or a bereaved father who came to express their pain to be harmed.”

The police chief blames the violence on “a group that does not belong to the families of the hostages,” and said it was “dragging us into photos we did not want to see.”

Shabtai says officers patrolling protests “must not look at the crowd, but at the person standing in front of us.”

The tumultuous protest saw police deploying water cannons against crowds for the first time since the shock October 7 Hamas assault.

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