Anti-Gov’t Rally Near PM’s Home in JLM Descends into Police Brutality; 9 Arrested

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered at Jerusalem Monday evening, June 17, in front of the Knesset for a demonstration against the far-right government, urging early elections and a deal to secure the release of the hostages held in Gaza. “No, we won’t agree to a reckless government,” “Bibi go home,” and “No to fascism” protesters chanted outside the Knesset. 

“Over the weekend, we heard [former minister Gadi] Eisenkot say that the Prime Minister is controlled by Kahanists and is unable make decisions,” said the crowd protest leader Prof. Shikma Bressler, referencing a television interview given by the former war cabinet member. “After what happened on October 7, and in light of this government’s extremism and denial of its failure, it needs to return the mandate to the people,” she added.

Many of the demonstrators then marched toward far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home where violent clashes broke out with police, with at least three people requiring hospitalization and nine brutally arrested.

Protesters gathering at Jerusalem in front of the Knesset for a demonstration against the far-right government, Monday evening, June 17, 2024 (Photo: Rabbis for Human Rights)

One of the injured was a volunteer medical doctor, Tal Weissbach, a member of the White Coats activist group. Colleagues say she was standing off to the side of the road wearing a bright orange vest so she could be easily spotted by those seeking treatment. Weissbach was struck in the eye and later checked herself into the Tel Hashomer hospital. Two other protesters were taken by Magen David Adom medics to nearby Jerusalem hospitals. One of them was unconscious after being struck by the water cannon and the other — a 63-year-old woman — was severely injured after being thrown into a wall

Prof. Hagai Levine, one of the organization’s leaders and former chairman of Israel’s association of Public Health Physicians, calls on the Israeli Medical Association to act after Weissbach was hit in the face by a police water cannon’s stream as she stood on the sidewalk of Radak Street wearing a brightly colored vest identifying her as a physician on volunteer duty. Levine says that his organization continues to warn against police violence at protests. “According to witnesses, Dr. Weissbach did not pose any threat and did not participate in any violent actions. Her injury was caused by the illegal use of force by the police,” Levine says. Mirsham, the organization of medical residents in Israel, demands an immediate legal investigation and says those responsible must be brought to account.

Following Monday night’s mass anti-government protest, an Israeli lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s called the protesters an “arm of Hamas.” Likud MK Nissim Vaturi suggests that anti-government protesters are a branch of the Hamas. Speaking to the Kol Barama far-right radio station, Vaturi says that “there are a few branches of Hamas — the fighting branch of wicked terrorists who murder children, and the branch of the protests.”