Police chief: We proved protests can be held anywhere
After 27 people were left injured from riots that broke out in protest of rightists' march in northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen says satisfied with officers' handling of situation. Deputy commissioner who was injured in event says 'this is part of the price we pay to uphold a court order'
Twenty-seven people were injured on Tuesday during the rightist flag march held in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, including 15 police officers and 12 civilians. All sustained light wounds, and police arrested 13 riot suspects.
About 100 activists, headed by Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir and new MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) marched on the outsirts of the city, in accordance with High Court and police instructions, and were hit by barrages of stones on their way.
Police responded to the rioting residents with stun grenades and tear gas, and even had undercover officers among the crowd who detained 13 rioters.
Police forces in Umm al-Fahm (Photo: George Ginsburg)
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen summed up the event on a positive note: "I do not measure such events in terms of success or failure, but of execution versus what was planned.
"This was a legitimate protest that was approved by the court and the police, and the police force proved it is strong and capable of allowing such demonstrations to take place anywhere in the State of Israel."
No less than 2,500 police officers were assigned to the task of maintaining order in the loaded event. A number of officers were among the injured, including Deputy Police Commissioner Shahar Ayalon, who sustained light wonds.
"This is part of the price we in the police have to pay to uphold the Supreme Court's order as we promised," the injured Ayalon told Ynet.
Residents rioting (Photo: George Ginsburg)
"I was standing with the forces, and a shower of stones started to fly from between the houses," Ayalon recounted. "Suddenly I felt a hard hit in the head. This is not the first time that officers are in the middle, between two sides, and this is not the first time that officers get hurt."
Ayalon was evacuated to Hadera for treatment, and, speaking from the hospital said, "We have a few other events and ceremonies today. I changed my blood-stained shirt and moved on."
Arab MKs who came to the city claimed police made excessive use of force and called for the prosecution of "the racists who came to provoke".
The procession's organizers, who fought for months to have it approved by the court, said this was no provocation whatsoever, and that they "came armed only with the flag".
Sharon Roffe Ofir, Efrat Weiss and Eli Senyor contributed to this report