MK Miri Regev (Likud) accused the social protesters on Wednesday of anarchism and of working against the State of Israel, Channel 10 News reported. Regev spoke during a Knesset discussion which convened following violent protests in Tel Aviv over the weekend.
Regev said that protest leader Daphni Leef and her friends “do not want change, they want to protest just for the sake of protesting. Daphni Leef and her friends from the far left do not represent the public. Our role is to maintain democracy. You cannot flaunt democracy only when it seems fit.”
She added, “Who are these activists? Are they not left-wing extremists who had been arrested in leftist demonstrations in the past? These are left-wing anarchists who act against the State. We want leaders who serve in the military, not those who shout out against ‘the occupation.’ Who is Daphni Leef? She is taking advantage of the protesters.”
Regev was responding to MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) who claimed that the police had expressed “disproportional aggression” when it arrested Leef on Friday, as well as during Saturday night’s protests, when the protesters began smashing windows of banks.
“Eight Yassam officers jump on her and pin her to the floor because of one tent?” said Horowitz, adding, “It cannot be that city inspectors or police officers receive instructions to stop the protesters from putting up tents ‘at all costs’. When they are told ‘at all costs’ that’s what they do.”
Internal Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch said during the discussion that there is no government directive to suppress the social protest and that the police simply responded to the violence exhibited by the protesters.
“The demonstrators threw eggs as they marched and emptied garbage cans all over Ibn Gabirol Street,” said Aharonovitch. “They threw a rock at a Tel Aviv District Commander which hit a photojournalist. After this ‘legitimate’ demonstration, they continued to Rabin Square and smashed windows of banks. The others turned to block the Ayalon Highway. The police acted to maintain law and order. The demonstrators acted violently against the Israeli government in that they termed a legitimate social protest.”
On Tuesday, the social protest activists set up about 20 tents in a park near the central train station in Tel Aviv. The tents were set up with the approval of the City of Tel Aviv-Yafo, which has agreed to provide the protesters with toilet stalls, water supply, lighting and cleaning crews.
Leef’s arrest last Friday came during an attempt to set up unapproved tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.
Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Yohanan Danino said Tuesday that the violence in Tel Aviv was not a spontaneous grassroots protest but "a pre-planned series of violent offenses." The protesters planned to place their social agenda in the public spotlight "at any price," he said, "but the price is too heavy for the state of Israel."
Last summer the protesters repeatedly rejected claims that they are extreme leftists attempting to bring down the Israeli government. The whistle was blown on them when the Zionist Im Tirtzu organization said it was pulling out from the social protests after finding a link between the protesters and the radical leftist NIF organization.
Im Tirtzu revealed that Leef worked for NIF as a video editor. Other leaders are members of the Arab-affiliated Hadash and Balad parties, and another is a member of the Anarchist’s movement, the organization said.
A message posted to the NIF website in January revealed its involvement in the social protests.