Minister to probe police violence after cops seen whipping anti-vaccine protesters

Officers reportedly knock journalist to the floor during rally against COVID measures near PM’s Ra’anana home; separately, right-wing Jerusalem protesters hit by water cannon

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, November 9, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, November 9, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Omar Barlev held a meeting Sunday evening with top police officials after cops were accused of using violence against protesters in two separate demonstrations over the weekend.

Anti-vaccine protesters said they were whipped by mounted officers near the prime minister’s private home in Ra’anana, while right-wing demonstrators were blasted with water cannons in Jerusalem.

Barlev, whose ministry is responsible for police, was to be briefed on what happened at both locations, according to earlier Hebrew media reports.

In Ra’anana, protesters against restrictions ordered by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic clashed with police outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s home in the central region city.

There were reports by several protesters that police on horseback used the leather reins of their mounts to whip demonstrators.

“A policeman whipped me when my hands were on my face [for protection],” Roy Peleg told Haaretz. “He could have hit me directly in the face.”

Nir Pich, who was also at the protest, said a policewoman was lashing with her reins “in all directions” and claimed she was not alone in her actions.

Pich said the use of reins in that way is humiliating.

“It has unpleasant connotations,” he said.

Video footage from the protest appeared to show a mounted officer lashing protesters.

Ran Shimoni, a Haaretz reporter who was also at the demonstration, said he was knocked to the floor even though he identified himself as a journalist.

Barriers had been set up some 300 meters from Bennett’s home in accordance with instructions from the attorney-general for holding protests near the homes of elected officials.

However, protesters claim police positioned the barriers in a way that forced the demonstration into an unnecessarily small space.

“It is a miracle that no one was crushed,” Peleg said.

Three people were arrested for disturbing the peace, Haaretz reported.

The disturbances in Ra’anana came as another demonstration in Jerusalem demanded the government do more against terror attacks in the wake of a deadly shooting attack last Thursday that killed an Israeli man and injured two others in the West Bank, and also turned violent.

Officers used water jets to disperse protesters with video footage showing people walking along the street being knocked over and one woman being blown off her feet by the force of the jet.

Police said they arrested 13 people for disorderly conduct, including one person who was carrying “weapons.” According to Ynet, these included a knife and brass knuckles.

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