Israeli police watch protestors in Petah Tikva, August 19, 2017..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
The police set up roadblocks in Petah Tikva on Saturday night, attempting to stop the weekly demonstration there calling on the attorney-general to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with corruption, and detaining two of its leaders.
The police revoked the permit for the demonstration, but that did not stop roughly 2,000 protesters from showing up outside the city’s police station.
The police stopped former Prime Minister’s Residence superintendent Meni Naftali and anti-corruption crusader and unsuccessful Labor Knesset candidate Eldad Yaniv from entering Petah Tikva.
The two men called on demonstrators to protest in front of the police station.
This week would have been the 39th consecutive Saturday night protest near Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit’s home. However, on Thursday, Police Legal Adviser Ayelet Elissar wrote to its organizers that the police “will not authorize the demonstrations...because of a significant change in the size of the demonstrations and their character.”
In addition, Elissar wrote that if they want to hold the protests elsewhere, they will have to apply for a new permit.
The move came after Petah Tikva residents petitioned against the demonstrations, saying that they were disturbing them. The city has a large religious population, and the rallies usually began before the end of Shabbat.
On Friday, Yaniv called on demonstrators to disobey the police’s instructions, writing on his Facebook page that the police are “hysterically lying” and that protesters should show up in the usual place at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
“The police are being pressured by Bibi’s hysterics, and when they are pressured, they lie. The demonstration is legal. It was authorized by the High Court and nothing changed.
"It’s that simple,” Yaniv wrote. “The government is crapping its pants. They are afraid! That is the truth.”
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud), who had been organizing counterprotests, praised the police’s decision, calling the rallies “anti-democratic” and “immoral.”
Bitan accused Yaniv of being a “left-wing anarchist who doesn’t respect the laws of the State of Israel and police instructions.
“Those who paint themselves as law-abiding have turned out to be law-breakers,” Bitan said. “The anti-democratic and immoral protests of a number of left-wing tyrants will not happen in that place. That is what we wanted, and we are happy it will be. I call on police to use a heavy hand against those who protest illegally to put inappropriate pressure on the attorney-general and continue to cause suffering for the residents of the area.”
The Movement for Quality Government and Naftali, who is among the protest’s organizers, asked the judiciary to issue injunctions against the police, allowing the rallies to continue and preventing police from making any further decisions in relation to them.