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Two anti-Netanyahu protesters arrested, suspected of attacking cop, reporter

Police on Monday announced the arrests of two men suspected of having taken part in the assault of a plain-clothed officer at a Jerusalem protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month.

During a riot that took place outside Netanyahu’s official residence on July 14, the two men (19 and 29) beat the officer, who required subsequent treatment for a serious leg injury, police said.

One of the suspects also assaulted Channel 13 journalist Avishay Ben Haim, according to police.

The two suspects will be brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court where law enforcement will request that their remand be extended, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack on the plain-clothed officer was the same one filmed by the Kan public broadcaster at the July 14 protest, where a large crowd of demonstrators could be seen pouncing on a cop not in uniform who was trying to arrest a violent activist.

One of the protesters at the scene could be seen protecting the officer’s head as a number of demonstrators tried to attack him simultaneously.

During that night’s demonstrations, protesters broke through police barricades on Keren Hayesod Street and reached the city center. After clashes took place, police deployed water cannons to disperse protesters.

Police did not comment on claims by the organizers of the protests that those who attacked Ben Haim were “provocateurs” and not members of the protest movement.

The verbal and physical harassment of Ben Haim earned condemnation from Netanyahu, who called it a “shameful attack.”

In footage that accompanied the condemnation tweet from Netanyahu, a protester could be seen shouting into a megaphone at Channel 13’s Ben Haim.

“Go and lick Bibi’s ass. Go! Go and lick that Ashkenazi’s ass, you Moroccan trash,” the demonstrator shouted.

In another widely shared clip from the demonstration a protester grabbed the right-wing journalist’s microphone and shouted at Ben Haim while he was in the middle of broadcasting.

The protests against Netanyahu have spread over the past month and have been held several times weekly in the capital.

On Sunday, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana warned that violent clashes at the demonstrations against the prime minister were likely to end in bloodshed, a day after thousands took part in demonstrations throughout the country against Netanyahu.

Ohana has claimed several times in recent days that the protests are part of a trend of “incitement” against Netanyahu that he says is worse than the lead-up to the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

He also raised concerns that the demonstrations, which have been held almost nightly in Jerusalem over the past week, are a danger, “due to the spread of the coronavirus”.

Ohana noted that other types of public gatherings have been “banned to prevent the virus spread”.

Later Sunday, recordings of Ohana pressuring police brass to step up enforcement against demonstrators were leaked to Kan.

“We cannot continue with this mess,” Ohana can be heard saying, referring to the protests. “We cannot continue with this anarchy. There is a difference between a protest and the events we have see over the last few weeks.”

Yadid can be heard in the recording answering Ohana by citing the unusually high number of fines handed out to participants of the protest for failing to wear face masks, fines which police have generally refrained from issuing at protests.

“Yesterday [we handed out] 160 fines for not wearing masks in the protest, which isn’t common,” Yadid can be heard saying. “Usually, at protests [we] avoid that.”

Original: TOI Staff