A violent altercation occurred between opponents of judicial reform protesters and security personnel during a visit by Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat to a hotel in northern Israel on Monday.
The demonstrators had gathered at the Pastoral Hotel in Kfar Blum, a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee panhandle, to protest Barkat’s appearance there for a conference along with representatives from the Kohelet Policy Forum, the conservative think tank advocating for the proposed changes to the legal system.
After Barkat and his entourage arrived at the hotel, the activists entered a hall during the former Jerusalem mayor’s meeting with a group of mayors and clashes broke out.
Video of the incident shows the demonstrators shouting at security and hotel staff followed by pushing and shoving, people falling, chairs being thrown and flag poles being used as weapons.
“The incident could have ended in bodily harm, given that it took the police half an hour to arrive and disperse the protesters, and in the meantime, the minister was left with only one security guard who was unable to deal with dozens of violent protesters attempting to reach Minister Barkat. The next political assassination is a matter of time,” sources close to Barkat said.
The hotel responded to the incident: “The hotel employees were preparing this morning for the arrival of Minister Nir Barkat at the conference when a group of protesters broke into the conference hall. The meeting with the protesters quickly flared up when the hotel employees felt threatened and reacted to the situation.
“The hotel is shocked by the incident, condemns violence of any kind and views with severity the incident and the violence of the employees involved. The police were called to the scene. The hotel will conduct a full investigation and cooperate with the police investigation to clarify the circumstances of the case until justice has been fully served for all those involved in the matter.”
Last month, two suspects were arrested in Tel Aviv, as anti-government protesters attacked Barkat.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Yariv Levin is threatening to quit the government unless at least one law is enacted from the proposed legal reform program, Channel 12 reported on Sunday. He is reportedly demanding that the law be passed by the end of the Knesset summer session, after the approval of the state budget.
Israel’s parliament adjourns at the end of July and, according to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to finish the session without bringing the stalled legal bills for a vote in the plenum. That would put Netanyahu and Levin at loggerheads.
Levin’s threat comes as President Isaac Herzog continues to work on a compromise on judicial reform and as the protests against it, briefly disrupted by the Gaza conflict last week, continue.
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