Israel sees overnight riots after Knesset passes first judicial overhaul bill

Kibbutz security official fires shots into the air as right-wing activists block the entrance; dozens arrested when anti-legal plan protesters block main Tel Aviv highway and Jerusalem streets

Ilana Curiel, Liran Tamari, Liran Levy, Raanan Ben-Zur|
Tens of thousands protested nationwide Monday night after the Knesset approved a bill to curb judicial oversight of the government. The demonstrators claim that the police have used excessive force against them. In Jerusalem, one protester suffered a deep cut to his hand, and a police officer had to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Police arrested 54 protesters during the day.
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A grave incident occurred near the entrance to Kibbutz Hatzerim, located just west of Be'er Sheva in southern Israel. During a confrontation with right-wing demonstrators supporting the government's judicial plan, the security officer on scene fired shots into the air. Police detained him along with six others involved in the altercation. Following the incident, authorities confiscated his gun.
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מתנגד רפורמה יורה באוויר בזמן עימות עם תומכי רפורמה בכניסה לחצרים
מתנגד רפורמה יורה באוויר בזמן עימות עם תומכי רפורמה בכניסה לחצרים
Wielding a gun at the entrance to the kibbutz
According to kibbutz witnesses, the captain fired shots into the air after perceiving danger from the activists. Around 9:45pm, judicial overhaul supporters arrived, blocking the kibbutz entrance. Confrontations ensued, including banging on a car with a kibbutz member and a young girl inside. Feeling threatened, one of the members fired into the air.
According to her account, the activists verbally harassed her as they blocked her path to the kibbutz on her return from Be'er Sheva. She sought assistance from kibbutz security to bring her daughter inside. The situation escalated with shouting and pounding on the car window using a megaphone and stones. In an attempt to protect her 10-year-old daughter, she tried to push one of the men away and was subsequently pulled and hit. Eventually, her daughter was safely placed in the car, and she was left distressed and unable to move for 40 minutes.
According to the kibbutz residents, the outcome of these demonstrations was predictable, leading to violent confrontations. One kibbutz member stated, "It's just terrible. They can demonstrate all they want, but they show me videos taking pictures of Kibbutz Hatzerim's cars, stalking us. All their pent-up anger toward Hatzerim suddenly comes out, and they hurl insults at us." Another resident mentioned, "When we demonstrate in Be'er Sheva, they block the junction, and there are alternative routes. However, here, I have no other way to get home. This is the only entrance to our homes."
"The situation in Israel is complex, to say the least," stated Nir Zamir, the head of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council. He described the incident as a "difficult event" and referred to it as a "provocation" on the part of the right-wing activists. Zamir added, "It is legitimate to demonstrate, but I also call on my residents to remember that we are one nation. We do not have another country. I hope that we will show courage."
During a demonstration in Jerusalem, a protester opposing the judicial overhaul suffered a hand injury and fainted. A police officer was seen administering first aid by applying a tourniquet to the injured protester. Prior to that, the protester alleged that "a policeman broke the bamboo (flag stick) on me." He was subsequently taken to Hadassah Medical Center for medical treatment.
Following Monday's demonstrations, including the incident of demonstrators being trampled near Kfar Saba, Benny Gantz, the chairman of the National Unity Party, called for restraint, stating, "On the eve of Tisha B'av, shooting in the air and trampling of demonstrators. I call on all parties, all citizens of Israel - we are all brothers, we must not resort to violence. Continue to express your opinion, protest, demonstrate - but do not cross red lines. We are brothers!"
Violent incidents occurred at various demonstration centers. In Ra'anana, a policeman pushed protesters blocking Ahuza Street, while in Tel Aviv's Kaplan Avenue, protesters resisted police cavalry, leading to a forceful response. Protesters set wooden boards on fire, and police were seen throwing a burning board at protesters. Hundreds marched on Ayalon highway, knocking down fences at the Shalom Interchange, injuring a police detective's leg. Another policeman was hit in the head by bottles filled with sand and glass bottles thrown by protesters.
The leaders of the "Kaplan Force" protest responded to the incidents, stating, "A direct line runs between the passing of the first dictatorship law and the escalation of illegal violence by the police against demonstrators. A government that uses the police to suppress a protest against it is a dictatorial government. We will not be deterred and will continue our fight against the dictatorship. Only determined resistance will preserve Israel's liberal democracy."
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