Police arrest 17 at ‘illegal’ anti-government protest at Netanyahu’s Caesarea home

Officers say protesters threw fists, objects but short video shows police hitting, shoving demonstrators; protest leader Moshe Radman hospitalized after being detained

A photo circulated by police on June 2, 2023 shows officers at an anti-government protest outside the private home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea. (Israel Police)
A photo circulated by police on June 2, 2023 shows officers at an anti-government protest outside the private home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea. (Israel Police)

At least 17 people were arrested and several injured during a protest on Friday night outside the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the affluent coastal town of Caesarea and a subsequent demonstration outside a police station, the Israel Police and protest organizers said.

The police said hundreds of people took part in the “illegal protest” across from the estate and some began “violating public order” and refusing police orders to disperse. According to the police, some protesters allegedly “attacked police officers with fists and objects.”

Protesters who were blocking a road near the residence were dispersed by officers and three were arrested, according to the police statement.

The prominent protest group Brothers in Arms said Moshe Radman, a leader in the protest movement against the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul plans, was among those arrested.

The organization urged demonstrators to show up at the Hadera police station to push for the release of the detainees and circulated a short video that appears to show officers attacking protesters and a photo of bloody handprints on a white police car it said came from the injuries of those arrested.

“Our democracy is bleeding, come now,” the group urged.

Police arrested at least 14 more protesters among several hundred outside the Hadera station late Friday, according to protest organizers.

Radman, a prominent high-tech entrepreneur has been at the forefront of demonstrations against the coalition’s legislation, and has been arrested a number of times over the past few months.

This photo from June 2, 2023, circulated by the Brothers in Arms group, shows bloody handprints on a police car following arrests at the protest outside the private home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea. The group said the blood was from those arrested. (Brothers in Arms)

Radman was later hospitalized, saying he started throwing up after receiving several elbows to the head.

On Saturday morning a court extended the remand of one of the detained on suspicion of attacking an officer. The other 16 were released.

“The scenes we witnessed in Caesarea last night are a complete travesty of justice orchestrated by a dictatorial regime attempting to silence dissent through severe brutality,” protest organizers said in a statement. ” This is not an isolated incident but a direct result of the efforts of the indicted terrorist sympathizer, Itamar Ben-Gvir.”

Demonstrations against the government’s judicial overhaul are set to enter their 22nd week on Saturday night, over a week after Netanyahu said the contentious plan to revamp the judiciary would now return to the legislative agenda after the passage of the state budget.

The judicial overhaul legislation has been frozen since late March, when Netanyahu said he would halt the plans to allow for talks with the opposition under the auspices of President Isaac Herzog, aimed at finding a broadly accepted compromise for judicial reform.

But months of talks have not produced a breakthrough, and pressure has increased within the coalition to resume the legislative push.

Netanyahu said last week, following the passage of the state budget, that “of course” the overhaul was now back on the government’s agenda. Later that day, however, he added: “We will of course continue with our efforts to arrive at a broad consensus agreement, to the extent possible, on the issue of judicial reform.”

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 over-intrusive court system.

The centerpiece of the overhaul is legislation that would give governing coalitions extensive control over the overwhelming majority of judicial appointments in Israel, by giving the coalition an in-built majority on the Judicial Selection Committee.

The bill is on the cusp of being passed into law, and can be brought for its final, back-to-back votes in the Knesset plenum at a moment’s notice. However, such action is almost sure to lead to a resumption of intense public unrest, the likes of which was last seen before the legislation was frozen.

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