Several dozen retired security service employees broke Wednesday into the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem to protest against a government resolution that would discriminate between the salaries of the police and Israel Prison Service's (IPS) pensioners, and those of the IDF's career soldiers.
A riot soon developed, and a curfew was declared. Ministers were asked to keep away from the entrance, and enter the building through the Interior Ministry office.
At 2:30 PM, a cabinet meeting was scheduled to take place in the Prime Minister's Office.
All the guards in the office left their posts and started chasing down the demonstrators. All employees were asked to lock cabinets containing classified documents. Police retirees even broke into the inner courtyard of the Prime Minister's Office.
The office’s employees who were inside at the time lashed out at the police for not sending reinforcements.
"This is a major security failure. They have been here for some 45 minutes, and the police are not sending additional forces to disperse the protesters. The security guards instructed the employees through the megaphone to lock themselves in the rooms and keep classified documents safe. The prime minister and the public security minister are stranded inside the office and cannot leave. It’s a disgrace," lamented one of the workers.
The Border Police were called to the scene, which prompted the demonstrators to shout: “Kahlon, go home!”
Arden: 'A grave mistake'
Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan addressed the issue at the cabinet meeting.
"On the one hand, I condemn all violence …There is no room for forced entry into the Prime Minister's Office. This is a serious act of violence. On the other hand, the government meeting today deals with a painful issue that concerns pensioners, police officers and prison guards—they have been subjected to a very severe injustice," Arden stated.
"They are entitled to a wage increases according to the Labor Court ruling. The Ministry of Finance is turning this into a political decision, to discriminate against people who risk their lives to defend civilians is something that should never be done. I hope the government will approve the wage increase," he added.
Police retirees and the IPS decided to protest against the Finance Ministry's intention to submit a proposal during a government meeting that would exclude police officers, prison guards, and pensioners from additional payments and would perpetuate a situation where police officers are discriminated against.
The payments in question have been transferred to career soldiers and IDF reservists for the past 12 years, yet police retirees and retired prison guards have been excluded from receiving those payments.
The proposal was supposed to be addressed at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The protestors demand to equate the salaries of policemen and prison guards serving in the army, including pensioners, to the salaries of the IDF's career soldiers.