Police car blasts 'go Netanyahu' to protesters

A video shows a police car blasting "rak Bibi" (literally, "only Netanyahu") over the loudspeaker while passing under the bridge.

Israeli police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on September 29, 2020. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on September 29, 2020.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
A police car blasted a slogan in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while driving under a group of Black Flags protesters in Kfar Vitkin, north of Netanya, Haaretz correspondent Noa Shpigel reported late Monday.

A video reportedly filmed by activist Avner Golan that was posted on Shpigel's Twitter under the caption, "Who says police do not protest freedom of speech and fervent democracy?" shows a police car blasting "rak Bibi" (literally, "only Netanyahu") over the loudspeaker while passing under the bridge.

Israel Police Spokesperson's Unit replied to the video in a tweet, saying that "following examination of the incident, it was discovered that [the responsible for blasting the slogan] were two volunteers acting in breach of norms of conduct expected from uniformed volunteers."

According to police, "their activity has been forthwith suspended, and their further volunteer service in Israel Police will be examined in light of the incident."

Tensions have been growing between demonstrators protesting against the Israeli government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the economic crisis on one hand and law enforcement alongside Netanyahu's loyalists on the other.

Last Wednesday, the Knesset voted 46 to 38 to limit demonstrations against Netanyahu to 20-participant groups. According to the new regulations, protests are only allowed within a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) radius from one's place of residence.

A spontaneous protest took place in Tel Aviv Wednesday night, with four being arrested by law enforcement on suspicion of rioting and attacking police officers. Three detainees were reportedly released from custody overnight.

According to police, the unsanctioned protest led to "grave civil unrest," with four demonstrators being arrested during the march on suspicion of rioting and attacking police officers.

A second protest took place days later on Saturday night, now with a total of 38 demonstrators being detained as clashes broke out between the protesters and law enforcement on the scene. Some 37 detainees were subsequently freed, with one remaining in custody.

Violence also broke out between the protesters and supporters of the current government in various locations across the country, particularly in the area of Greater Tel Aviv, as well as Haifa and Jerusalem. 

One woman protesting in the northern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Hahayal reportedly received injuries to her face, and her husband was hit in the head with a wooden flagpole.

Last Thursday, a demonstrator was injured after she was reportedly hit by a car that drove into an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. According to Ynet, the car pulled up to the protest, stopped, accelerated and rammed two protesters, one of them being injured.

The driver was ultimately arrested afterwards. The incident took place two weeks after a suspected attempted car-ramming attack on protesters in Jerusalem.

Activist Alec Yefremov, who spoke with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, said on Twitter he "was lucky enough to sit in the cell near [the driver]. All of us, the 12 arrested protesters, received a shower of Bibist [pro-Netanyahu] swears."

According to Yefremov, the driver threatened the detainees, saying, "Wait till we meet outside, you will see what I will do to you. I am the one who drove" into the crowd.

In August, N12 reported a senior police official said behind closed doors that 
"Israel is in a state of social chaos" as violence broke out at anti-government protests, with a group of demonstrators reportedly being attacked by pepper spray and a glass bottle.

Following the violent incident, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said violence between conflicting factions could lead to a civil war. "Violence against protesters could lead to civil war," Gantz said in an interview with Channel 13. "We must stop this hatred and incitement."

Gantz continued, saying neither Netanyahu's supporters nor those rallying against him "can engage in this hatred of the other," adding that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin "was not assassinated because of hate on the Left."

On Thursday, graffiti saying "Rabin was a Nazi" and a swastika were spray-painted on the wall of an anti-government activist's apartment building, News 13 investigative journalist Omri Maniv wrote on Twitter.

Tamar Beeri and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.