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Man indicted for pepper-spray attack on anti-government protesters

Eliran Cambisis reportedly says what he squirted at demonstrators in July incident in Ramat Gan was cleaning fluid, expresses regret

Screen capture from video of a driver allegedly spraying pepper spray from the window of a car at protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Aluf Sadeh Junction, July 25, 2020. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of a driver allegedly spraying pepper spray from the window of a car at protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Aluf Sadeh Junction, July 25, 2020. (Twitter)

An indictment was filed Tuesday against a man accused of pepper-spraying anti-government protesters during a rally in Ramat Gan earlier this year.

Eliran Cambisis, 34, has claimed that what he squirted out of the window of a moving car at the Aluf Sade Interchange was cleaning fluid, according to Haaretz. He also has told investigators he was influenced by incitement on social media and that he regrets his actions.

Video taken by one of the protesters and shared on social media at the time showed a car slowing as it passed the protesters and then spray emerging from the side window. Moments later protesters could be seen apparently suffering from the effects of the spray.

Cambisis was arrested hours later. During questioning he said he was angry at the protesters because of their “damage to state symbols,” Haaretz reported. He was apparently referring to a protester who was photographed sitting topless on a large menorah opposite the Knesset.

On Monday a Tel Aviv man, 54, was indicted for the violent assault of anti-government protesters over the weekend. Before that, 20-year-old Felix Eliav was indicted for the attempted stabbing of a protester in July.

Protesters have held weekly rallies calling for the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial in three criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu has denied the allegations and attacked the police, justice system and other officials for what he and his allies term a “witch hunt.”

Anti-government protesters were attacked at several locations Saturday night, as tens of thousands demonstrated in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and around the country.

Anti-government protestors outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, on October 17, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Protesters in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Haifa reported being pepper-sprayed, and attacks also reportedly took place in Kiryat Ata and Jerusalem, the latest in a rash of assaults by suspected far-right activists. Supporters of the protests say the assailants are being egged on by allies of Netanyahu, who have described the protesters as anarchists subverting the will of the people.

Police also said they detained several figures suspected in the attacks on demonstrators, including a 19-year-old arrested in central Tel Aviv and suspected of pepper-spraying a demonstrator. Video from the scene showed a driver for the bike-based food delivery company Wolt being detained.

Saturday’s Jerusalem protest was the first major demonstration in the capital since a rule including protests in coronavirus restrictions barring travel more than a kilometer from home expired Tuesday.

The prime minister’s Balfour Street residence has been at the center of weekly protests that have gained steam since the summer, with demonstrators also criticizing his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critics of Netanyahu say his attacks on the law enforcement system and the protests against him, coupled with the destabilizing effects of the virus, are major causes for a deeply polarizing atmosphere that has settled over Israel, and fear the violence may yet turn deadly.

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