Gilad Erdan speaks at the Herzliya Conference.
(photo credit: HAGAI FRID)
Ongoing protests near Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s home calling on him to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on various corruption charges are delegitimizing the rule of law, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Saturday.
Erdan slammed protest leader and former Prime Minister’s Residence superintendent Meni Naftali and activist and failed Labor candidate Eldad Yaniv, both of whom were arrested last week for using social media to organize an illegal demonstration near Mandelblit’s Petah Tikva residence.
On Thursday, the High Court of Justice overturned the police decision, ruling that the protests, now in their 40th week, can continue with legal sanction on Saturday nights with a 500-person limit.
“Eldad Yaniv and the protesters are acting against the rule of law and delegitimizing the attorney-general for political interests,” Erdan wrote on Twitter. “Eldad Yaniv and Meni Naftali behaved liked anarchists who have their own laws.
“Unlike the lies [told] by Eldad and his friends, there was no ‘intervention from above’ in the police decision in the field,” he added.
Erdan said the police had gone above and beyond in allowing the protests to continue even though they did not have official permits – until they “got out of control” and Petah Tikva residents petitioned against them.
Erdan called the arrest of Yaniv a mistake because “he wanted to be arrested to help himself in [the Labor] primaries.”
He also said it was unlikely that they would flee.
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay tweeted: “When we lead the country, demonstrators who keep the public order will be able to demonstrate anywhere at any time, without arrests, without limitations and with a police that will protect them and not be against them.”
Meanwhile, satellite rallies took place throughout Petah Tikva Saturday night, in response to the limit on protesters, with a reported 1,000 people altogether in attendance.
When the police said that the 500-person limit had been reached at the square where the protests had been held the previous 39 weeks, hundreds of people gathered down the block, according to activists documenting the events on social media.
Journalist and transparency advocate Tomer Avital, who took part in the central demonstration, argued that the satellite rallies created more disturbances for Petah Tikva residents than one, large rally.
“We’re by a closed mall.
Other than one kiosk that’s making a lot of money, there’s no one here; we’re not bothering anyone,” he said. “But there are small rallies dozens and hundreds of meters away, and that’s disturbing people near their homes. There’s noise and litter there. It’s counterproductive.”
Avital said that if the police are “making such efforts to separate us and trying to weaken us, then they must be really afraid of us because otherwise it’s not reasonable.”
He also said that the atmosphere at the demonstrations was more heated than in previous weeks because of all the roadblocks. “There are more people screaming ‘Mandelblit is corrupt’ than before,” he said.