Police detains 2 organizers of weekly protest outside AG's home
Following 38 weeks of demonstrations at Goren Square in Petah Tikva, protesters have to change location after neighbors complain about the noise; police says organizers arrested for calling on protesters to break the law and hold the demonstration at square.
Two of the organizers of weekly protest outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva were detained on Saturday, while the demonstration had to be moved to a new location.
The protesters, who gathered for the 39th consecutive week, claim the attorney general is stalling the criminal investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
So far, protests have been held at Goren Square in Petah Tikva, not far from Mandelblit's home, but noise complaints from the neighbors forced demonstrators to move locations.
Despite not having a permit, police allowed protests to take place at Goren Square as long as there were no disturbances of public order and as long as demonstrators did not march toward the attorney general's home.
Last week, residents of the neighborhood petitioned the High Court of Justice against the protests, complaining about the noise.
While the High Court has yet to rule on the petition, police informed protesters they had to seek a permit to hold their demonstrator at Goren Square.
Protest organizers met Friday with the commander of the Patah Tikva Police, Barak Mordechai, in an effort to secure a permit for the protest at Goren Square, unsuccessfully.
"Unfortunately, our talks with the Israel Police about the protest at Goren Square were unsuccessful," said attorney Daniel Haklai, who represents some of the protest organizers. "The police was only willing to allow a protest at the Petah Tikva Park, near the Magistrate's Court, the Big Mall and the Beilinson Hospital. It was only willing to allow 50 people to protest at Goren Square."
Even though they failed to reach an agreement with the police, many of the protesters tried to reach Goren Square on Saturday night, but police blocked streets in the city leading to the square, as well as access to the square itself.
One of the protest's organizers, Meni Naftali, who sued the Netanyahu couple over the treatment he received by Mrs. Netanyahu while he was working as a caretaker at the Prime Minister's Residence, was detained for questioning while on his way to the square.
Eldad Yaniv, another one of the protest's organizers, was also detained for questioning.
Two other protesters were detained when they continued to make noise outside the Petah Tikva police station after 11pm.
Hundreds of people eventually arrived at the new location to protest, carrying signs saying "Democracy is in danger," and "A corrupted government" alongside Israeli flags. They were faced with several Likud supporters holding a counter-protest.
One protester lamented the location change, saying, "We planned to come to Goren Square and protest peacefully, as is allowed by law. And then we saw they're not letting us get there, and that Meni Naftali and Eldad Yaniv were arrested. We're still living in a democratic state. It would have been better if they had just let us protest. No damage was done. The Goren Square is not exactly under Mandelblit's home, it's a few hundreds of meters away."
Tali, another protester, said, "We demonstrate on a regular basis and protest against corruption. The police has proven today that our protest is justified."
The Likud Party said in response, "Left-wing organizations, led by the New Israel Fund, know they can't defeat Netanyahu at the polls. So they're trying every week, against democracy and the law, to put pressure on the attorney general to prosecute the prime minister regardless. They're not really interested in truth and justice, but in replacing the Likud government with a left-wing government that would carry out their policy. The majority of the public can see that."
The Israel Police said in response, "After the residents of the Kfar Ganim neighborhood in Petah Tikva filed a petition against holding the mass protest inside the residential neighborhood, the Israel Police stated it was no longer possible to hold the protest at the Ganim Mall (near the Goren Square). The police approached the organizers of the demonstrations in an effort to reach an agreement on an alternative place... unfortunately, the attempts at dialogue were unsuccessful and the protest organizers were determined to break the law and protest at the mall, while endangering public safety. The Israel Police prepared to prevent any violation of law and disruption to order and had to detain several people who were calling to break the law."