Violent anti-judicial reform protesters play victim – video reveals a different story

Protesters throw chairs, beat security guards protecting political conference with flagpoles, then claim they were the victims of “thugs.”

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Anti-judicial reform demonstrators who disrupted a conference in northern Israel attended by Economy Minister Nir Barkat claimed they were the victims of “serious violence” after they were ejected by the venue’s security.

Barkat was attending a meeting with leaders of local municipalities in a hotel in Kfar Blum in northern Israel when demonstrators broke into the venue with bullhorn and protest signs and began loudly chanting.

In footage from the scene circulating on social media, one woman can be heard screaming into a bullhorn that Barkat is part of a “dictatorship” that will see “freedom of speech” destroyed. She slams the local politicians speaking with him as “collaborators.”

Continuing her rant, she claims that the right-wing government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu will ruin the country, charging that “this hotel won’t even exist” should the judicial reform legislation be passed.

After repeatedly being asked to leave the hall where the meeting was taking place, presumably due to security concerns – a government minister and the heads of numerous municipalities were inside – the protesters were pushed out by the hotel’s security guards.

“It took half an hour for the police to arrive and disperse the protesters, and in the meantime, Minister Barkat had only one security guard who was unable to deal with the dozens of demonstrators who were physically trying to reach him,” a witness told Ynet.

Giora Ben-Ze’ev, an 81-year-old protester, told Ynet that he and other demonstrators were victimized by overzealous security guards.

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“We are a group of protesters, all of us 40 to 80 years of age and older,” he said. He admitted that they were asked to leave and refused to do so, yet he framed the security as a “group of thugs” who “attacked us because we were demonstrating for democracy.”

A look at footage recorded by some of the demonstrators reveals a different picture about the physical aggression during the incident.

Clips circulating on social media do show security guards shoving protesters out of the space, as well as seizing pointed flag poles from protesters’ hands.

One critical detail, as Ben-Giora noted, is that many of the participants are older and seem to be physically unsteady on their feet.

A video from the incident depicts a protester, who appears to be in his 60s, charging a security guard while wielding a flagpole, hitting him in the shoulder. The security guard successfully blocks the man in a defensive manner, and the demonstrator apparently loses his footing and falls to the ground without being pushed by the guard.

Another video taken by one of the protesters clearly shows a demonstrator hurling a chair, which strikes a security guard in the back.

The man who threw the chair did so while sitting down. He appears to lose his balance afterwards, toppling over backwards and continuing to lay on the ground, creating the impression that he was knocked over by the security guard.

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However, the video did not show any physical contact between the protester and the security guard, save for the chair throw.

In another part of the video, another protester can be seen walking backwards away from the security guards, losing his balance and falling down.