Israel-born anti-Netanyahu protester ‘violently attacked’ at Bring Them Home London demo

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Israel-born anti-Netanyahu protester ‘violently attacked’ at Bring Them Home London demo

Aviel Lewis, 59, alleges he was 'violently attacked, pushed to ground' after displaying sign accusing Netanyahu of 'killing hostages and innocent Palestinians' at Sunday's London demo

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Aviel Lewis, 59, Israeli expat claims he was attacked at Bring Them Home demo in central London
Aviel Lewis, 59, Israeli expat claims he was attacked at Bring Them Home demo in central London

An Israeli-born video director claims he was violently attacked, pushed to ground and injured after holding aloft an anti-Benjamin Netanyahu placard at the latest Bring Them Home demonstration in London.

Aviel Lewis, 59, who completed service in the IDF including in Lebanon, said he believed at least one person, who was draped in an Israeli flag, and who wore a kippah, was responsible for the alleged attack, which left his sign with the words “Netanyahu Is Killing The Hostages And Innocent Palestinians” ripped into pieces.

While a second individual, also on the protest, may have also been involved in the attack, although this individual could have decided to hold him on the ground to prevent further violence flaring up.

Lewis confirmed he had given a statement to the Metropolitan Police on Monday on the incident, which had left him suffering from pains to his body and headaches the falling day.

Aviel Lewis with ripped sign after incident on Bring Them Home demo

Lewis said he had attended Sunday’s demo organised by the UK branches of the 7/10 Human Chain group and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, believed a “wide spectrum” of views on the best way to secure freedom for the 125 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza would be represented.

Speakers at the event, which was attended by former home secretary Suella Braverman and attracted an estimated 40,000 people, included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, relatives of the hostages and Lord Stuart Polak.

Lewis said he had attended the demo “intending to make a point” common on Israeli hostage protests, accusing Netanyahu of wanting to prolong the war, and making it likely that the only way the hostages would be returned was “in coffins.”

He said he had previously spent around 30 minutes in discussions with those on the protest, most of whom appeared to share similar views about the war needing to continue.

But as Lewis walked to meet friends who were staying at the Waldorf Hotel, only minutes away from where he was situated, he said he was pounced upon by at least one, but possibly two attackers.

“I felt a violent push, and (someone) snatched my sign, and I was then immediately pulled to the ground as I tried to retaliate and snatch it back ” he recalled.

“While I was on the ground someone else held me down, not letting me go to the attacker and get the sign back. Two people were involved, although I can’t be 100 per cent sure the second one wasn’t asseming he was doing something to stop more violence.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at Bring Them Home demo

Lewis, who moved to the UK two decades ago,  said he clearly recalls the first attacker as having an Israeli flag draped around him, and that he was also wearing a kippah.

He said he was later escorted away from the demo by a warden, and believes he saw his attacker, who appeared to rejoin the protest again.

On Monday,  Lewis, who said he was in pain and suffering from headaches as a result of the incident, gave a statement to the Metropolitan Police, who confirmed they were begin an investigation into the incident.

He had previously assisted the Defend Israel Democracy protest organisers with a group of expats which took place in prior to the October 7th terror attacks in London and elsewhere.

Asked what his message would be to the Bring The Home protest organisers would be, Lewis said it should not be the case that everyone should “subscribe to the lies of the Israeli government that we are going to turn every stone to find them with military pressure. To me, that only means finding dead bodies.”

Lewis said “there is only one way they are going to get them out, and that’s through an agreement.”

Dismissing claims that those on the UK protests should not engage in direct criticism of the Israeli government, he said:”I have joined protest about Iran, China, Saudi Arabia.

“I believe people have this right, you can’t restrict them from wanting make the world a better place.”

In terms of Sunday’s protest he added:”I believe I have an even greater right and responsibility, because I was part of what I am not happy with now.

“Part of the occupation, in the IDF I was in Lebanon. I saw terrible things. I feel very responsible for what we are doing.”

He added:”I find it important to stress that in Israel the idea that Netanyahu doesn’t care about the hostages is widespread, to say the least.

“Most Israelis believe Netanyahu is trying to prolong the war.”

Lewis said he feared some British Jews were choosing to “hear only what they want to” because they wished to stay loyal to Israel.

Jewish News has contacted the Met Police for comment.

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