Photo: Noam "Dabul" Dvir
Scene of protest
Photo: Noam "Dabul" Dvir
30 arrested at marijuana legalization protest in Jerusalem
Police disperse 1,000-large crowd; defense attorney says 'people came to protest a legitimate issue.'

Israel Police sealed off the entrance to Jerusalem's Rose Park in anticipation of a Saturday night protest to legalize marijuana, known as 'The Great Night of Bongs.' The Jerusalem Magistrate Court barred activists from convening in the park, after the police filed a petition to stop the activity.



Hundreds of young civilians who tried to gain access to the park were turned away by police officers. The gathered masses eventually converged at nearby Sacher Park.


One of the protesters who was turned away from the Rose Park yelled at the police officers, "You piece of crap, you don't even behave this way on the Temple Mount."


WATCH: Hebrew interviews with protesters

Watch: Hebrew interviews with participants


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 קוד להטמעה:


Police arrested 30 people at the park: 23 were detained for allegedly causing disorder and seven were cuffed for drug-related offenses.


During the protest, participants tried to block Rabin Boulevard, which runs parallel to the park. After protesters refused to disperse, police officers began breaking up the crowed by force, arresting 10.


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Many instances of additional arrests were reported Sunday morning, though most had been released with the knowledge that they will be summoned in again for questioning.


Police forces reported that a traffic officer stopped five drivers for allegedly driving under the influence of drugs.


Amos Silver, one of the organizers of the rally, was arrested on Thursday and prevented from taking part in the event.


"I spent most of the night at a police station in Mevaseret Zion. They told me to come quickly or I would be in violation of a court order," said Silver. "In the end I left the police station at 5 am when the rally was already over."


Nearly 1,000 people were present at the event, many of whom were reportedly teenagers taking advantage of the Passover vacation from school.


Photo: Noam "Dabul" Dvir (Photo: Noam "Dabul" Dvir)
Photo: Noam "Dabul" Dvir


Legal representative for a number of the detained protesters, Attorney Yaniv Peretz, claimed that, "Police bullied members of the crowd and used officers mounted on horseback to disperse the gathering. People came to protest a legitimate issue."


"Everyone has been released besides two who are still in jail and I'm confident that there won't be an indictment against them," said Peretz.


Netanya resident Omer arrived in Jerusalem with four friends to take part in the protest and said that they were well aware that the courts had barred the protest from taking place, but that they were un-deterred.


"We're just coming to have a picnic," said Omer. "It escalated into a struggle because they won't even let us protest and voice our opinion."


Permit problem

"We intend to be there from midnight until 4 am. People are saying that they'll come with drugs and then we'll see if the Police are capable of arresting 3,000 people at once," said Omer early in the protest.


"Personally I didn't bring any substances because I'm flying to India in two weeks and I don't want to take the risk that I'll be arrested."


Kaplan Street, which leads to the Prime Minister's Office as well as the Knesset, was also closed to traffic. Police forces were stationed at the scene.


The police petitioned the court to bar the event from occuring, on the grounds that the protestors never applied for the proper permits.


Ofer Bar Tov and Silva, two activists for the legalization of marijuana who organized Saturday night's protests, were arrested on Thursday.


The two were arrested for preaching sedition and prohibited organization because they encouraged participants in the demonstration to smoke marijuana during the event.


Police brought the two before a judge who ordered their exclusion from the demonstrations upon request from police. They appealed to the District Court where they were quickly denied.


The dialogue surrounding legalization of marijuana has been in the news recently after a scandal in which Israeli celebrities like actors Keren Mor and Yehuda Levi as well as producer Moti Reif were suspected of buying and using drugs.


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