Anti-Netanyahu Incitement 'Spilling Over,' Minister Says, Calling to Stop Protests

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana says incitement that preceded Rabin assassination in 1995 'pales in comparison' and dubbed anti-Netanyahu protesters 'agents of chaos who want to sow panic'

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Public Security Minister Amir Ohana.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said on Wednesday that incitement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "spilling over," adding that "what is called the incitement" that preceded late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in 1995 "pales in comparison."

Speaking at a press briefing in Jerusalem, Ohana dubbed the thousands of Israelis who took on Tuesday to the streets near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem demanding Netanyahu's resignation "agents of chaos who want to sow panic." He continued by calling on citizens not to participate in anti-government protests during the coronavirus crisis.

LISTEN: Protests, pandemics and Netanyahu's day of reckoning

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According to Ohana, Netanyahu is a victim of incitement that "isn't handled appropriately and even sometimes at all." He mentioned a Facebook post by prominent musician Efraim Shamir, who called to "take down the psychopath," and another comparing Netanyahu and French King Louis XVI, who was executed in the late 18th century.

The minister said called Tuesday's protest an "anarchy." He also claimed that residents living near the Prime Minister's Residence complained to him that they "can no longer live like this" with ongoing demonstrations in their neighborhood.

With the latest demonstration, Ohana said, "it reached a peak. Blocking roads, throwing objects, it's the sort of things that can't go unanswered. The protests in that area have reached a peak, and they need to be stopped in that sense."

Ohana also spoke about cases of police brutality, which have reportedly rose during the coronavirus crisis alongside enforcement of the government's restrictions, and said he would work to change that together with the next commissioner of the Israel Police, who Ohana said would be nominated within a month.

The position of police commissioner has remained vacant since Roni Alsheich ended his tenure in late 2018. Moti Cohen has been serving as acting police commissioner since then, but a permanent appointment was delayed several times as Israel went to three back-to-back election cycles soon after Alsheich ended his term.

"There's things to be fixed in the police force, which sometimes shows patience when force is needed and vice versa," Ohana argued. "There's no place for violent officers in the force, and I expect these cases to be treated effectively by the commanders," he added, saying he has "no faith" in the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers.

On Tuesday, Some 50 protesters were arrested following clashes with police at a thousands-strong rally in Jerusalem demanding that Netanyahu resign over his corruption charges in the latest of increasing protests against the prime minister. 

Netanyahu has been drawing criticism not only for his alleged misconduct in the three corruption cases against him, but also for his attacks on the attorney general, the media, law enforcement and the judiciary in his arguments that the charges against him are baseless.

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