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21 arrests and injuries at anti-government, hostage release protest in Tel Aviv

Police use water cannons, horsemen to disperse protesters

Police clash with protesters during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current Israeli government, in Tel Aviv, on Feb. 24, 2024. (Photo: Itai Ron/Flash90)

Clashes between police and protesters led to the arrest of 21 people and several injuries at a demonstration calling for the release of the Israeli hostages, the Israel Police announced on Saturday evening.

The clashes began on the sidelines of a protest calling for the immediate release of the Israeli hostages. Protesters approached a police force trying to keep demonstrators from blocking a nearby highway, as happened many times during the anti-judicial reform protests last year.

The police said in a statement: “We continue our efforts to maintain public order in the face of protesters who continue to confront the police and refuse to obey our instructions in an attempt to block major roads that harm the routine residents of Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.”

“Following the violations of public order, the demonstrators who were not part of the planned protest approved by the police confronted the police officers and continued to block roads.”

The protesters accused the police of acting with excessive force and reported the use of water cannons, in addition to one incident of a horse-mounted police officer whipping a protester on the head.

Several Israelis were treated for injuries after they were knocked to the ground during the clashes, according to media reports. The police accused “troublemakers” of coming to the protests with the intent of instigating clashes with the police.

One of the protesters claimed that she had probably broken her foot after a horse stepped on her: “We were at a protest at the Kaplan intersection – we were attacked from all directions from the water cannons.”

“Six or seven horsemen got on the sidewalk, we crossed the green road when suddenly a horseman came up to me from behind and his horse crushed my left foot. I'm afraid of a fracture and I'm in an ambulance on the way to Ichilov,” she told Ynet News.

A police official told Ynet that the protesters, including one of their leaders, Moshe Redman, broke prior agreements with the police.

“Redman did not keep the agreements with us. We gave him a compound and he decided to make a mess. He and his friends along with dozens of protesters decided to go down to the Azrieli Junction… They threw objects, including bottles, at the police. They come to fight with the police and get their photos,” he said.

Following the arrests, hundreds of protesters demanded the release of the arrested suspects in front of the police station.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid condemned the violence, saying: “Tonight’s police brutality against the demonstrators, including the families of the hostages, is dangerous and anti-democratic and cannot continue. The right to protest is a fundamental right and it cannot be denied to the protesters with batons and water cannons.”

Hofshi Be’artzenu, an umbrella group for the protest groups calling for elections, also condemned the violence in a statement.

“In the spirit of the minister of the government of destruction, the police used water cannons and mounted police directly against citizens who were standing on sidewalks and did not resort to any violence.”

“The voice of the citizens of Israel who are demanding to replace the most failed leadership in the country’s history will not be silenced, it will only grow stronger,” added the group.

The police concluded its statement regarding the events by stressing that it “considers the right to protest as a cornerstone in a democratic country and allows protests as long as they are held within the framework of the law.”

“At the same time, the police will not allow disturbances of any kind or damage to freedom of movement and any behavior that may endanger the safety of the public.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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