Ron Huldai accuses government of using the police to break up anti-Netanyahu demonstrations.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday of using the police as a tool to break up anti-government demonstrations on the weekend.
“So long as there was restraint on the part of the police, there was restraint on the part of the protesters and suddenly someone lost the balance,” Huldai said in an interview with Channel 12 News.
With coronavirus infections spiraling out of control, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on September 25 restricting Israelis to remain within one kilometer of their homes except for essential travel. Groups were limited to 20 people outdoors, a move that effectively shut down anti-government demonstrations that had been taking place for the past several months.
“Everything was quiet until someone gave the instruction that I saw it with my own eyes to send uniformed and undercover officers inside to pull protesters out,” said Huldai, who was out in the front lines monitoring the protests. “It was not to enforce the corona law, it was to break the demonstrations.”
Huldai accused Netanyahu of “turning the police into a political tool in a political debate,” saying it forced the police into an “impossible situation” of having to shut down public dissent.
“When it comes to a plague you need solidarity and discipline,” Huldai said. “From a leader we expect plans and a budget, [but instead] we have a leader who deals with himself and does not care what happens to the citizens.”
The demonstrations Saturday night were the first after the amendment to the law that limits the right to demonstrate. Although for several hours demonstrators kept to the rules set by the police, as the evening progressed the demonstration only got worse.
Once police began arresting demonstrators, hundreds of protesters started marching through the streets of Tel Aviv in violation of known existing laws that require permits for street protests.
After midnight, an order was issued to disperse the demonstration with force and a total of about 70 people were arrested, with most released by Sunday except for one person suspected of assaulting police.
The demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the week.