Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Monday defended the recording in which he is heard asking Jerusalem's head of police to relocate the anti-government protests from Prime Minister's Residence, describing them as "incubators for coronavirus".
The recording published by the public broadcaster KAN reveals the minister, in charge of Israel's law enforcement, pressured Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Yadid to move the protests. Yadid is could be heard saying, the police were already stricter on health regulations during the rallies in Jerusalem, compared to other events.
"We asked for police's judgement on the matter," Ohana told Ynet. "The Director General of the Health Ministry Hezi Levi says the same, the protests are incubators for coronavirus, with thousands crowded in one open space."
Ohana also implied that some of the demonstrators were ready to physically harm Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Were it not for personal security guards, someone would have done something."
He said he is concerned by alleged "explicit calls" to assassinate the prime minister. "I warned both the Shin Bet and the attorney general this issue should be addressed," he said. "We received explicit threats, someone told [Netanyahu], 'You will end up like Louis XVI' who was beheaded."
The minister added neither Netanyahu nor anyone else from his residence have asked for the protests to be moved, with most of the complaints coming from residents who live in the area.
"Freedom to protest is one of the cornerstones of a democratic state ... but they [the protesters] do not have the right to prevent a midwife from reaching the maternity ward at the hospital, to prevent firefighters from putting out a fire and prevent police from dealing with violent incidents."