One of the anti-government demonstrators, who violently attacked during a rally against in Tel Aviv, said Wednesday the police "abandoned us and disappeared" as his pleas for help went unanswered.
Protesters at a march calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's removal from office came under violent attack in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. At least five of the protesters were wounded and required hospitalization in attacks attributed to pro-Netanyahu activists. Several people have been arrested over the attacks.
Twenty-seven-year-old Shai Sekler said before the attack, group of approximately ten people joined the demonstration and then suddenly began attacking the protesters with various objects. "At first we thought they were undercover detectives because they walked around as an organized group," he said.
"A group of ten people dressed in black, began attacking the protesters with knives, batons and glass bottles," Sekler told Ynet. "I ran to help the wounded and then I was attacked myself with a sharp object," he added.
He added the attack was allegedly ignored by several undercover police officers who were present in the area. "The police abandoned us and disappeared exactly in the area where we were attacked," he said.
Sekler said a bottle had been smashed over his head and he was taken to the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where he got needed stitches.
"One of them attacked me with a sharp object and shortly after two other men jumped me. After the incident, I ran after them to get their faces on video and notify the police."
Sekler and several protesters chased after the protesters until they reached the Kaplan Street. "We saw a few undercover cops there, I was all bloodied up and asked them for help, to call a cop car or an ambulance, and they simply ignored me," said Sekler. "The moment that frightened me the most, was when I realized the police are not here to keep order or to defend our civil rights."
After the attack, some argued it was nothing more than a scuffle between fans of rival soccer teams. "I will not belittle the incident by saying it was a group of fans of some team or another," said Sekler. "It was an organized group, which has been incited by the indicted man in Balfour and his envoys in the media."
Sekler added: "I am afraid, mainly because I believe the police has chosen a side. Yet, we cannot fight for our country. We have no choice but to take to the street and fight for our democracy."
Tamar, another protesters, was hit with pepper spray during the attack. "They were walking among us along the Ibn Gvirol Street, quite close to each other but not too close, and then, when we got to the cinematheque, one of them shouted 'Now!', And they started hitting one of the protesters."
According to Tamar, "there were some who tried to break the fight and keep them away, but they continued to throw chairs, before finally fleeing as a group to a another street while spraying tear gas."
Alon, another protesters, said he recognized the assailants, who watched a basketball game in one of Tel Aviv's restaurants prior to the attack.
"They watched the game and decided to celebrate with violence," Alon said. "Throughout the whole rally we were escorted by police officers, but as we got to the cinematheque there were suddenly no cops and no detectives. And although we called for police, no one came."
Wednesday evening, three more suspects were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the "various violent incidents." According to police, various pieces of evidence were gathered, linking the three to the violence.
"The right to protest is a basic right," said the police in a statement, "the police will do all in its power to make sure this right is sustained, while fighting relentlessly against those who act with any sort of violence. We will continue to thoroughly investigate each case of violence and take all necessary actions in order to reach the truth and bring to justice those involved."
The attack sparked a series of condemnations from Israeli officials, including President Reuven Rivlin, who warned of escalating violence, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Netanyahu himself.