Several leaders and prominent members of the protest movement against the government’s judicial overhaul were arrested during the course of the nationwide demonstrations on Thursday, including Shikma Bressler, Kalanit Sharon, Rotem Perelman-Farhi and Moshe Radman.

The arrests led several opposition figures and politicians to accuse police of conducting “political arrests,” although the force insisted in at least two cases that the arrests were made due to “disturbances of public order.”

Bressler was arrested at a protest outside the Rafael arms producing firm close to Or Akiva, Sharon was arrested in Tel Aviv and Perelman-Farhi in Haifa.

The arrests came during a “day of paralysis ” across the country Thursday against the government’s radical legal reform package, in rallies that have involved acts of civil disobedience including the blocking of major highways.

Bressler, one of the leaders of the protest movement, was arrested at a demonstration at Binyamina Junction. She was later released. Bressler, a physicist and researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is a founder and leader of the Black Flags movement, formed against the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2020.

She has been a prominent voice in the latest anti-government protests, often acting as the MC at the massive demonstrations at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv.

מעצר של ד״ר שקמה ברסלר שוורצמן ממובילות המחאה, בהפגנת עובדי רפאל בצפון pic.twitter.com/NXbUDQ04Ss

— ‏Tal Schneider טל שניידר تال شنايدر (@talschneider) March 23, 2023

She and others, including workers from the Rafael defense technology company, were protesting at the junction in the Haifa District and succeeded in blocking the Route 4 highway for approximately an hour.

According to the police thousands of people participated in the demonstration, which they said posed a danger to drivers and the protestors themselves. Cops declared the protest to be illegal.

Crowd dispersal tactics were used by the police to clear the road, and 12 protestors were arrested including Bressler, who was arrested on charges of disturbing public order and interfering with a police officer performing his duty.

Bressler was taken to the Zevulun Police Station in Haifa but released a short while later on condition that she leave the area of the protest.

Video footage of Bressler’s arrest showed her being led away by police to a patrol car amid calls of “Shame!” by protestors.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters outside the police station, Bressler said she did not blame the police due to the difficult situation they had been put in.

“I really want to say thank you to the police, as strange as that sounds. It’s clear to us all that a democratic country needs a strong police force, and we have no other police force. They have been put in an impossible situation and our task is to ensure that Israel remains a democracy,” said Bressler.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak tweeted that her arrest was an example of “dictatorship in action.”

Labor leader MK Merav Michaeli tweeted that “In a normal country Shikma Bressler would be given the Israel Prize. In the state of Netanyahu and [Itamar] Ben Gvir she is arrested as a common criminal. [This is] Hungary and Poland on steroids. A disgraceful government. Democracy will prevail over you.”

The Weizmann Institute also said it “fiercely condemns the shameful arrest of Dr. Shikma Bressler,” and that “the arrest of such a central figure in the [anti-government] protests during a non-violent protest raises suspicions of non-pertinent considerations in her arrest.”

Perelman-Farhi, a partner in the Epstein Rosenblum Maoz law firm and a protest leader from Haifa who has featured in the weekly Tel Aviv protests, was arrested in Haifa during protests in that city in which thousands of people participated, according to the police.

Video footage of her arrest showed her being carried away by police officers.

עורכת דין רותם פרלמן פרחי ממובילות מחאת העם חיפה נעצרת בהפגנה במת״מ. תיפגש עם ד״ר שיקמה ברסלר לתכנון המשך השבוע???? pic.twitter.com/OPv1U7jPBz

— Michal Porat (@drmichalporat) March 23, 2023

police said she was arrested for disturbing public order, and she had yet to be released as of the time of writing.

Kalanit Sharon, a leader in the Pink Front protest movement, was arrested in Tel Aviv.

בוקר של מעצרים פוליטיים: ההשתלטות המוחלטת של פוליטיקאים על מערכות השלטון המקצועיות. עשרות נעצרו כי הם מתנגדים להפיכה המשטרית. חשוב לזכור: תל אביב יפו תישאר דמוקרטית ועצמאית. עיר שתיאבק על זכותו של כל אזרח להגיד את דעתו ולא משנה מהי. ????המעצר המזעזע של כלנית שרון @KalanitSharon pic.twitter.com/AOzL1cHHvA

— ציפי ברנד (@BrandZippi) March 23, 2023

Labor MK Naama Lazimi denounced the arrest of Sharon on Twitter.

“They are trying to silence us. We won’t let them! We won’t have a dictatorship here,” declared Lazimi.

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QOSHE - Opposition decries ‘political arrests’ as several central protest leaders detained - Jeremy Sharon
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Opposition decries ‘political arrests’ as several central protest leaders detained

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23.03.2023

Several leaders and prominent members of the protest movement against the government’s judicial overhaul were arrested during the course of the nationwide demonstrations on Thursday, including Shikma Bressler, Kalanit Sharon, Rotem Perelman-Farhi and Moshe Radman.

The arrests led several opposition figures and politicians to accuse police of conducting “political arrests,” although the force insisted in at least two cases that the arrests were made due to “disturbances of public order.”

Bressler was arrested at a protest outside the Rafael arms producing firm close to Or Akiva, Sharon was arrested in Tel Aviv and Perelman-Farhi in Haifa.

The arrests came during a “day of paralysis ” across the country Thursday against the government’s radical legal reform package, in rallies that have involved acts of civil disobedience including the blocking of major highways.

Bressler, one of the leaders of the protest movement, was arrested at a demonstration at Binyamina Junction. She was later released. Bressler, a physicist and researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is a founder and leader of the Black Flags movement, formed against the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2020.

She has been a prominent voice in the latest anti-government protests, often acting as the MC at the massive demonstrations at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv.

מעצר של ד״ר שקמה ברסלר שוורצמן ממובילות המחאה, בהפגנת עובדי רפאל בצפון pic.twitter.com/NXbUDQ04Ss

— ‏Tal Schneider טל שניידר تال........

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