Woman Says Netanyahu Supporters 'Roughed Her Up' During PM's Speech
WASHINGTON (CN) - A woman claims Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supporters "roughed her up" in the House Gallery during his speech when she "stood up from her seat in the Gallery and opened a banner that read 'Occupying Land is Indefensible,' and shouted, 'No more occupation. Stop Israeli war crimes!'"
Rachel Abileah sued four John Does in Superior Court.
Abileah, 28, is a U.S. citizen of Israeli descent and works as a Middle East Campaigns Coordinator for grassroots social justice organization CODEPINK.
Abileah says she was authorized to attend the May 24 event by a member of Congress. According to her complaint, when she entered the gallery she noticed several people wearing American Israeli Public Affairs Committee badges. AIPAC is Israel's powerful U.S. lobbyist.
Ten minutes into Netanyahu's address to the joint session of Congress, she stood up, opened her banner and shouted her message, she says. That's when the four unknown individuals threatened and physically assaulted her.
"Four to five other persons sitting in the House Gallery began to attack her, including one man who used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and then violently yanked her head back, injuring her neck," according to a statement from her attorney Lynne Bernabei, with Bernabei & Wachtel.
In her complaint, Abileah says she was rescued by plainclothes police officers who "dragged Ms. Abileah out from under the group of people."
The complaint states: "They told her that they saw the assault and it was clear that she got 'roughed up.'"
Abileah suffered emotional trauma and neck and muscle strains resulting in frequent headaches, Bernabei said. She wants her attackers to pay $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for assault, battery and false imprisonment.
"Ms. Abileah's actions were in a long line of peaceful actions intended to bring public attention to grave injustice. The violence against Ms. Abileah mirrors the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine against peaceful demonstrators," Bernabei said in her statement.