Protests against the judicial overhaul reached a boiling point on Monday night following the final approval of the law to cancel the reasonableness clause. The protesters experienced severe violence from the police, and even from other civilians.
Three protesters, including a 14-year-old boy and his mother, were run over on Highway 531 as they blocked the road, and were released overnight between Monday and Tuesday from the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
In footage of the incident, one of the protesters is seen leaning on thehood of a private car on Highway 531, seemingly trying to prevent the car from moving forward at a junction that was blocked by demonstrators. The driver of the car then apparently accelerated, throwing the man off the car, hitting three protesters on the road, and fleeing the scene. The police arrested the suspected driver of the car half an hour later, and his detention has been extended for three days.
In another incident, five suspects were arrested for their involvement in a confrontation at Kibbutz Hatzerim in Israel's south. During the brawl, the security officer of the kibbutz fired shots into the air near supporters of the judicial overhaul who were blocking the entrance. The officer's firearm was confiscated after the incident. As a result, seven suspects were detained for investigation on Monday, and two of them were released after being questioned. The remaining five, including the security officer who fired the shots, will be brought to a hearing today for the extension of their detention in the Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court.
According to the kibbutz members, the security officer only fired shots into the air after feeling threatened by the activists. According to their account, at around 9:45 p.m., a group of judicial reform supporters arrived and blocked the entrance to the kibbutz. "It was the fourth night, and they began to contend with a kibbutz member with a baby in the car, and they started hitting the car. The gate closed, and tensions escalated. One of the members who was attacked felt his life was in danger and fired shots into the air," they reported.
The Kibbutz Movement also addressed last night's incident in Hatzerim, stating in an official message to its members that the security officer "felt a threat to his life and fired several shots into the air from his firearm." It was further noted that the supporters of the judicial reform "harassed a mother and her baby, damaged cars, and contended with kibbutz members who arrived at the scene."
Protesters against the judicial reform claimed on Monday that police officers resorted to violence at some of the protest sites, resulting in at least 54 protesters being arrested throughout the day. However, due to the confrontations between police officers and protesters during the night, the number of detainees increased. Meanwhile, Monday night on the Ayalon Highway a police officer was documented pulling a female protester by her hair and throwing her over a wall, while another officer was seen kicking a protester in the head.
Moshe Redman, one of the protest leaders, told Ynet on Tuesday that, in his opinion, the police are currently using more force against the protesters than before.
"It is important to remember that, in a significant percentage of cases, the police come to do their job loyally and allow us to protest. We need to stop these rare incidents that still occur and unfortunately continue to escalate completely unnecessary violence," he said. "We witnessed many cases of violence yesterday. A water cannon was pointed directly at us while we were peacefully protesting outside the Knesset," he said.
According to Redman, these cases of police brutality are "serious and need to be investigated. The police need to conduct a thorough examination of how this happens and how it is dealt with, including within the police investigation department, which, unfortunately, has not provided an adequate response."
The documentation of police brutality also led the White House to issue a statement during the night, in which it urged the authorities in Israel to protect and respect the right to protest.
The police claimed that "during the events of disorder in Tel Aviv yesterday, 10 police officers were injured as a result of violence by the protesters." It was further stated that "during yesterday's activity, a police officer was attacked by a mob near the Ayalon Highway, after he tried to prevent the ignition of a bonfire on the road and arrest the suspect responsible for setting it on fire."
Labor Party head Merav Michaeli responded Tuesday morning to the statement from the Prime Minister's Office during the night, telling Ynet that it was "a statement more fitting for non-democratic countries." Regarding the conduct of the police, Michaeli said that she was appalled by the violence directed at the "polite and non-violent" protesters, adding: "In what world do the police behave like this?"
Michaeli also directly addressed Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, and called on him "to grasp the seriousness of the moment and understand that he is the one who stands between the citizens and a irresponsible government, which does not hesitate to turn this society against itself. He should be the responsible power that preserves public peace."
Police spokesman Eli Levy dismissed the protesters' claims and Michaeli's allegations. "No police officer leaves his home to beat a protester. We, as the police, have been dealing with with dozens and hundreds of protest events every week for the last 30 weeks consecutively, and 98% of the events in the field end with no mishaps or exceptions," he said. "When I leave my home on Saturdays to get to the protests in Tel Aviv, along the entire road, I see dozens of protests that are held within the legal framework, and everything goes as it should. Unfortunately, yesterday there was a burst of violence within a very short time frame."
"It's time for every person who goes out to protest to understand that they cannot block a road," Levy added. "Yesterday, there was a massive fire in Jerusalem, what if that event had escalated to, God forbid, an event with injuries or the need to evacuate residents?"
During a protest in Jerusalem on Monday, a protester against the judicial reform was seriously cut on his hand and fainted, and a police officer was documented applying a tourniquet. Before that, the protester claimed, "A police officer broke the bamboo (flagpole) on me." He was taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for treatment.
Many incidents of violence were documented at other protest sites. In Ra'anana, a police officer pushed protesters blocking the road; In Jerusalem, a female police officer forcefully dragged a protester and then referred to her as "fat"; During a protest in Tel Aviv, protesters warded off police horses, and in response, the police used significant force. According to the police, wooden boards were set on fire by the protesters in that location. Subsequently, police officers were seen throwing a burning board toward the protesters.
Thousands of protesters also descended onto the Ayalon Highway and began marching on the road. The police reported that the protesters knocked down fences while descending to Ayalon at the Shalom Interchange, resulting in a detective from the police being injured in the leg. He received on-site treatment. Another police officer was injured in the head when protesters threw bottles filled with sand and glass bottles toward the officers.