Police on Sunday released from custody an Israeli man who had run over several protesters during a protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, having accepted his claim that the incident, which left one woman lightly wounded, was unintentional.
However, opposition figures didn’t wait for the dust to settle before accusing the government of responsibility for the accident.
“Terrible pictures from Tel Aviv; miraculously it ended with only [one person] injured. The terrible incitement comes from within the government. Let them take responsibility, let them stop the division. Sending well wishes to the wounded and the Israeli patriots all over the country who are fighting for our democracy,” tweeted opposition leader Yair Lapid just after midnight on Sunday.
The incident began when protesters blocked the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, in what has become standard practice in the anti-judicial reform demonstrations now entering their 36th week.
Video of the accident shows a vehicle plowing through several protesters before coming to a halt. According to the driver, he had been in the process of shifting to the driver’s seat to replace his son, who was just learning to drive and was overwhelmed by the situation, when he accidentally hit the gas pedal.
Shortly after the accident, Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli tweeted: “The wretched driver who carried out the ramming attack against the protesters in Ayalon did not act in a vacuum. Behind him are inciting politicians from the coalition, who shed the blood of the demonstrators. They are responsible for the collision just as much as the driver,” she wrote.
Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a response, stating that Netanyahu “strongly condemns any form of violence.”
Earlier on Saturday, Netanyahu had condemned remarks by protest organizer professor Shikma Bressler, who had compared members of the government to Nazis.
“I strongly condemn the words of the leader of the leftist demonstrations, Shikma Bressler, who referred to the government ministers as ‘Nazis,'” said Netanyahu.
Bressler has since apologized for her remarks.