Israel's Shin Bet security service ordered the arrest of a protester who shouted at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vehicle.
Ordered by a Shin Bet security guard, police arrested the demonstrator in the Tel Aviv suburb of Hod Hasharon Tuesday evening after he shouted “Bibi go home” through a megaphone at Netanyahu’s motorcade, using the prime minister’s nickname.
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The Shin Bet said later that the demonstrator, 36-year old Hod Hasharon resident Eyal Yarom, was arrested for standing outside the designated area for protests and for getting too close to the motorcade, and not due to the content of his remarks.
Yarom was shackled and taken into custody on suspicion of disturbing public order and interfering with a police officer in the line of duty. He was released three hours later subject to restrictions. The arrest was carried out even though there were no legal restrictions on protesting in the area and despite the fact that a policeman on the scene permitted protesters to stand there.
Shin Bet sources said Yarom was standing outside the area where demonstrators were allowed, that he had “immediate access to the prime minister’s motorcade” and was therefore moved away. It is not clear, however, why it was necessary to arrest him after he was moved away from the motorcade.
The incident occurred on Tuesday evening following a campaign rally attended by Netanyahu in Hod Hasharon. Yarom was standing on a traffic island as the prime minister’s motorcade passed by. A Shin Bet security guard immediately began pushing him towards a sidewalk, after which police officers arrived and arrested him.
“There were about five of us in an area with almost no demonstrators,” Yarom told Haaretz following his release. “We stood on the street corner after the policeman ordered us to stand there, since they closed the rest of the street. When the motorcade began moving, I stood alone on the traffic island near the crosswalk and shouted ‘Bibi go home,’” he recounted.
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“All of a sudden, a guy dressed in a suit came over and started pushing and shoving me. He took me to the other side of the street,” Yarom said. “I didn’t resist but he pushed me into a hedge and left me. When he let go of me, I resumed shouting ‘Bibi go home,’ and then he turned around and yelled, ‘Arrest him. Get him out of here,’ to the policeman.”
Yarom said the arrest was violent and that he was taken to a police cruiser in the area. “The policeman led me like a donkey,” he said. “I was in shock from the situation. The policeman and the Shin Bet [agent] arrested me because I yelled ‘Bibi go home,’ as if I had done something wrong. After all, we were standing where the policeman told us to.”
Yarom was taken to the police station in the adjacent suburb of Kfar Saba in handcuffs, then shackled and placed in a holding cell, along with two other arrested protesters. Yarom was questioned and told that he was suspected of disturbing a public servant, disturbing public order and failing to obey a police officer’s order.
“The investigator asked me if I had permission to demonstrate,” Yarom said. “I told him that all I did was yell ‘Bibi go home’ and that the police were violent towards me. I am a law-abiding person and if I constitute any kind of threat to the prime minister, then first of all, it’s a failure on the part of the police for permitting people to stand near the motorcade route. But, ultimately, the person who told us to stand there was the same policeman who [later] arrested me, who was directed to do so by the Shin Bet man.”
“The Shin Bet is afraid that Netanyahu will hear the demonstrators,” Yarom claimed. “[The Shin Bet] want to present an image of nice and beautiful world to him and that’s why they tried to move me away. This was the first time in my life that I have been arrested. Did I constitute a threat? This isn’t how I want my country to be run.”
The Shin Bet responded that while the prime minister was in Hod Hasharon, “a citizen was seen standing outside the designated area for protesting and had immediate access to the prime minister’s motorcade while it was underway. A security force acted, as is their responsibility, to move the citizen away from the motorcade to protect his safety and that of the [prime minister],” the statement said.
“It should be noted that there is no credibility to the citizen's claims regarding the security action taken due to his presence beyond the permitted area and for getting too close to the prime minister’s motorcade,” the Shin Bet said.
The police said “the suspect got into a confrontation with a security guard of the prime minister, did not comply with orders [and] disturbed the peace. He was therefore arrested for questioning and ultimately released.”