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Driver rams protesters at anti-government demonstrations in Tel Aviv

Attorney says event caused by vehicle malfunction, no intent to harm protesters

The scene where a driver ran into protesters during a demonstration calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip and against the current Israeli government, in Tel Aviv, April 6, 2024. (Photo; Erik Marmor/Flash90)

A driver accelerated his car into a group of protesters, injuring five people, at an anti-government rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

Video on social media showed the driver and a passenger in his car arguing with protesters and police before the car suddenly accelerated into a crowd of protesters, hitting several people. 

One protester was said to have moderate injuries, while the rest suffered minor injuries. The driver of the vehicle was later arrested and taken for questioning. 

During last year’s anti-government protests, there were a couple of incidents of drivers hitting protesters who blocked roads. 

However, the driver’s attorney, Ron Keren, said that this incident was due to a malfunction and was not a deliberate ramming.

“The case is unfortunate and tragic,” Karen said. “This is not a deliberate ramming - and apparently, a mechanical malfunction in the electric vehicle caused the vehicle to accelerate without the driver's ability to stop the vehicle immediately while doing everything possible to avoid running over the protesters. He has nothing against the demonstrators and attempts to attribute a nationalist-political motive to the incident are unwarranted, especially until the facts are clarified. Public personal attacks from all ends of the political spectrum are dangerous and lead to escalation, and I would expect no rushed legal statements at this stage, as they only bring about fraternal and party conflicts.” 

Israel's Channel 13 news reported that around 45,000 people participated in the main demonstration, which took place on Kaplan Street in the city's main center. Walla News reported that some 100,000 attended protest events throughout Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

The initial demonstration involved anti-government protest groups and families of hostages, who called on the government to approve a hostage deal and call for early elections. Police said that a group of rioters began to illegally block roads, light bonfires, and attack police officers at the end of the legal protest. 

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip and against the current Israeli government outside Defense Headquarters in Tel Aviv, April 6, 2024. (Photo: Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Responding to the car-ramming incident, Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar called for "everything to be done to bring the perpetrator to justice.” 

“All sides must condemn the violence and hatred spread by extremists who are trying to turn us back. Our enemies are just waiting for the rift between us so that they can attack again, as happened only six months ago,” Zohar wrote to social media. 

Opposition leader Yair Lapid blamed the incident on government incitement. 

"We will not be deterred and will not be made to stop protesting until the hostages are returned and this terrible government falls,” Lapid said in a statement. 

War Cabinet member Benny Gantz condemned the violence and the public accusations over the protest movement. 

“We all need to make clear statements condemning all violence,” Gantz said, adding, “Comparing the protesters to our enemies and accusing them of wanting to assassinate the prime minister shows a lack of national responsibility.” 

“I would like to wish a full recovery to the wounded, and I call on everyone: We must not go back to the days before October 7,” Gantz continued. 

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

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