Abutbol accuses Cohen supporters of Beit Shemesh electoral violence

Two Abutbol workers were attacked by Cohen activists while putting up campaign posters, mayor's campaign alleges.

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October 14, 2013 00:05
2 minute read.
Abutbol campaign workers after alleged attack by activists affiliated with Eli Cohen

Beit Shemesh electoral violence 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Abutbol campaign)

Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol blasted challenger Eli Cohen on Sunday over what he claims was an attack on his campaign workers by activists affiliated with Cohen on Thursday night.

According to Abutbol campaign spokesman Hanoch Bressler, two Abutbol workers were attacked while putting up campaign posters in the neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph late Thursday evening. Bressler stated that two men, whom he identified as Cohen activists, pelted the Abutbol workers with stones and ceramic tiles after being asked to cease ripping down newly hung campaign signs.

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The men were treated on the scene and received only light injuries, Bressler stated.

Asher Weig, one of the workers, told The Jerusalem Post that he believed his attackers to be Cohen campaign workers because when asked why they were removing Abutbol signs, they replied that they were “being paid” to do so.

Mayor Abutbol called on all parties to refrain from violence and instructed his campaign workers not to allow themselves to respond to the Cohen campaign’s “provocations.”

Cohen should make sure that “all of his activists are operating within the framework of the law,” Abutbol said.

Zvi Wolicki, a spokesman for the Cohen campaign, denied that violence was used in any form by the challenger’s campaign.

“We know of no such incident and find the staging of fabricated incidents to be distasteful at best and part of the continued hate-mongering,” Wolicki told the Post. “We are very disappointed in the level of [political] discourse.”

Wolicki accused the mayor of exacerbating sectoral divides and turning the election into a “haredi/non-haredi” battle in order to avoid discussing substantive issues, citing election advertisements featuring haredi children behind barbed wire and claims that Cohen would allow public transportation on Shabbat.

The alleged attack came less than a day after Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, a candidate for city council with the moderate haredi Tov party, accused an Abutbol campaign worker of stoning him following an argument over signs.

Responding to the Abutbol campaign’s accusations against Cohen, Tov spokesman Stuart Schnee called on “all sides to focus on what will make our city a better place to live in.” “The alleged use of violence by anyone is unacceptable. Beit Shemesh has always been a wonderful community where residents of all types coexist peacefully, and we will continue to be neighbors the day after the elections,” he said.

Signs belonging to both Abutbol and Cohen have been torn down across the city in recent days. One resident who spoke with the Post on Sunday stated that she had to repeatedly eject children from her yard who had tried to tear down her election signs.

“When I spoke to one of the children’s fathers,” she said, “he asked me what I was going to do about it.”


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