Two protesters attending a Saturday night demonstration calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign from office said they were assaulted by supporters of the premier, who caused them injuries requiring hospital treatment.
Dr. Michael Morris-Reich, of the Department of Theater Studies at Hebrew University, and Pnina Refael, 75, said they were attacked by a man and a woman, near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Doctors suspect that Morris-Reich may have a broken nose, Channel 12 news reported. Refael told the station she was hurt on the back of her head and still has difficulty walking from an injury to her pelvis caused when she fell over.
Refael recalled that she had attended a protest held outside the official residence on Balfour Street, which sparked a counter-demonstration by supporters of the premier. Police kept the two sides apart and there were no clashes despite heated confrontations between the rival groups.
Some of the anti-Netanyahu protesters left the location to walk the short distance to a protest camp, led by Professor Yoram Yovell, which had been set up in nearby Independence Park, she said. As they approached the camp they were accosted by a small group of the prime minister’s supporters and one of them, a woman, hit Refael in the the head, apparently with a flag pole, knocking her to the floor.
“I have a big bump on my head and still have difficulty walking,” she said.
When Morris-Reich rushed to her defense, another Netanyahu supporter headbutted him in the face, he said, in a video filmed as he was being treated at the hospital and shared on social media.
שבוע טוב ממאהל מחאת גן העצמאות בירושלים, לצערנו ולחרפתנו, שני מפגינים שבאו לחזק את ידינו, פנינה ומיכאל, הותקפו באלימות…
Yovell, who was at the protest camp at the time, said there are photographs of both the man and woman who allegedly carried out the attacks and that the material would be passed on to police. The assailants both fled the scene.
On Sunday, Yovell shared a photo of the injured Morris-Reich and the man he alleges attacked him.
Other photos shared on Twitter purported to show the woman who attacked Refael.
הערב בירושלים בהפגנה .ברח׳ בלפור וגן העצמאות.
אלימות של ביביסטים נגד מתנגדי נתניהו.
בצילום ד״ר מיכאל מוריס רייך. פנינה רפאל.
וביבי סטית שהפילה את פנינה על הכביש. pic.twitter.com/2S4I9pFLdC
— tzipi Menashe (@MenasheTzipi) December 7, 2019
Attorney Daniel Haklai, representing Morris-Reich “We expect the police to locate the suspect, arrest him, and bring him to justice and punishment.”
Channel 12 reported that Morris-Reich and Refael were both released from the hospital on Sunday morning.
Morris-Reich posted a photograph of himself after receiving treatment.
במיון בהדסה. ביביסט נגח באפי בהפגנה בבלפור. זה מעט דם. אבל זה ייגמר ביותר דם, אם ניתן לנאשם להסית את תומכיו נגד פרקליטים עיתונאים ומפגינים. הוא חייב לעזוב את תפקידו לפני שעוד אנשים ישלמו פה בגופם ובחייהם.
ראו הוזהרנו pic.twitter.com/ejU9Z25uGX
— מיכאל מוריס-רייך (@DramaSkills) December 7, 2019
After Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced indictments against Netanyahu in three corruption cases last month, the prime minister held a press conference in which he accused prosecutors of seeking to oust him from power with false charges in an “attempted coup.”
While many have demanded that Netanyahu resign, the prime minister’s supporters have rallied behind his accusations of tainted investigations by a politically motivated justice and law enforcement establishment.
Netanyahu faces fraud and breach of trust charges in all three cases and bribery in one.
The indictments, which have not yet been filed, came amid a continued political deadlock that has failed to produce an elected government in nearly a year despite two rounds of elections. The 120 Knesset members have until a December 11 deadline to choose one of their number to form a majority coalition or unity government, after which Israel will face an unprecedented third election in under a year.