Protest leader grilled by police for threatening to hound cop who whipped a woman

Roee Neuman tweeted he would ‘persecute’ horse-mounted officer filmed hitting protester; demonstrators mass outside police station during interrogation

Anti-overhaul protest leader Roee Neuman speaks after being questioned by police on April 10, 2023. (Channel 12 screenshot)
Anti-overhaul protest leader Roee Neuman speaks after being questioned by police on April 10, 2023. (Channel 12 screenshot)

Roee Neuman, a leader in the anti-government protest movement, was questioned by police on Monday about a social media post he made in which he appeared to threaten to “persecute” a police officer accused of brutality.

Writing on Twitter earlier in April, Neuman expressed his anger toward a mounted police officer who hit a woman with his whip on the Ayalon Highway.

The officer “will sit in prison for many years [and] after he is released we’ll persecute him for many more years. Remember what happened today. It will not be forgiven or forgotten,” he wrote. “Damn those who try to harm our democratic protest, damn them now and for the rest of their lives.”

Neuman was asked to come in for questioning to the Tel Aviv District station after the officer he referred to in his post filed a complaint, accusing him of making threats.

He was given unconditional release after the interrogation.

Neuman was accompanied to the station by his lawyer Gaby Lasky, who accused police of wasting their time with him while, she said, there were far more serious issues for them to attend to.

“Instead of fighting terror and dealing with violence and incitement directed against demonstrators every day, the police are dealing with someone leading a non-violent democratic struggle,” Lasky, a former member of Knesset, was quoted by Ynet as saying.

“This is a political interrogation intended to shut down speech and intimate critics of the government. These are the typical practices of a total dictatorship and this is how the country will look if the judicial overhaul is passed,” added Lasky.

Protesters gathered outside the Tel Aviv District police station in which Neuman was being questioned. “This is an attempt to silence protest spokespeople,” read a message sent to WhatsApp groups dedicated to organizing the anti-overhaul demonstrations.

Naama Lazimi, a lawmaker for the center-left Labor party, said that investigating an organizer of a political protest was “political persecution,” adding that the coalition was not, as it claims, a full-fledged right-wing government, but rather a “full-fledged fascist” one.

Last week, the police officer accused of hitting the protester, named as Yael Reuveni, apologized to the 24-year-old, saying that “it wasn’t my intention to hurt her. I ask for her forgiveness.”

After the incident, police accused Reuveni of striking the horse in the head, to which the officer responded accordingly — though no such action was seen in the videos of the incident.

Police also released an image of a wound to the horse that they claimed was caused by protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating for months throughout the country against the government’s efforts to hamstring the judicial system and transfer power to the executive branch, with protests continuing despite the coalition’s decision to temporarily pause the overhaul legislation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was suspending the legislation as opposition to the judicial overhaul intensified in recent weeks with mass spontaneous protests seeing hundreds of thousands pouring into the streets, followed by a national strike, after the premier’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had warned about the security implications of the coalition’s proposals and called for a halt to allow for talks.

The premier indicated the “timeout” would last until the Knesset’s next session, beginning April 30, meaning the pause will mostly take place when parliament would be in recess anyway.

But he stressed the overhaul would end up passing “one way or another,” and the “lost balance” between the branches of government would be restored. “We will not give up on the path for which we were elected,” he vowed.

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