Police on Tuesday arrested four far-right activists for harassing protesters demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the central city of Holon, as video footage showed one of them attacking the demonstrators with pepper spray.
Two of the suspects detained for disturbing the peace have since been released.
The incident was strongly condemned by the organizations behind the weekly anti-Netanyahu protests.
“Another day of serious violence by those that Netanyahu is inciting to violence,” the Black Flags movement said. “Netanyahu and his coalition partners are responsible for this incident, for the car-rammings and for the serious violence. Netanyahu wants the protesters to bleed because he thinks it’ll stop the protests. This protest won’t end until Bibi [Netanyahu] quits.”
האלימות ממשיכה: המשטרה עצרה ארבעה פעילי ליכוד / ימין לאחר שהפרו את הסדר הציבורי מול מפגינים נגד נתניהו בחולון. לפחות שניים מהם ריססו גז פלפל לעבר מפגינים ברחבת המדיטק בחולון @ynetalerts pic.twitter.com/jK7bXRT0SW
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 13, 2020
The Crime Minister group said: “It seems Netanyahu won’t stop until a tragedy happens. Bibi, the incitement and violence won’t deter us. We won’t let you bring Israel to civil war.”
The protesters vowed to resume their demonstrations outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence on Saturday night, after lockdown restrictions that curbed the rallies expired.
Separately, protesters against Netanyahu in Jerusalem were hit with vegetables hurled by passersby, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, a report in the Haaretz daily said only one person has been indicted in the dozens of reported attacks on anti-Netanyahu demonstrators in recent months, a Sderot resident accused of assaulting a protester with a sharp object.
The most serious incident was in July, when several suspected far-right activists attacked protesters as they took part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv. The attackers were seen hitting demonstrators with glass bottles, clubs and chairs and spraying them with mace. Organizers of the protest said five people were hospitalized, including two with stab wounds in their backs. Later reports said 10 people were hospitalized.
There have also been two suspected incidents of cars trying to ram protesters.
The Haaretz report noted many of the incidents were not technically criminal, such as cursing and throwing eggs.
Protesters have also accused cops of using heavy-handed measures against them, while police have defended their handling of the demonstrations.
Thousands of Israelis participated in weekly demonstrations outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem for months this summer, calling on the longtime prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption.
Since the restrictions on protesting were approved last month, tens of thousands of Israelis have staged protests on street corners and public squares near their homes against Netanyahu and against the government’s perceived mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.