Activists in the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are quarreling on Facebook and elsewhere following the news that some demonstrators have been holding talks with the head of a Jerusalem police station.
On Wednesday, Haaretz reported that in recent weeks four meetings have been held between protesters, a police officer and Kobi Yaakobi, the commander of the city’s Moriah police station. The two sides discussed issues including the arrest of high-profile activists.
Late this week, opponents of the dialogue told Haaretz that many demonstrators have used harsh language to attack the negotiators and said there was no place for a dialogue with the police. A few others have supported the talks.
Opponents of the dialogue argue that the meetings have been exploited by the police to gather intelligence about the protests.
The sessions with Yaakobi have been held in an apartment in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, not far from a main protest site, Paris Square, a short distance from the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street.
For months now, protesters have been demonstrating against Netanyahu’s alleged mishandling of the coronavirus crisis in the run-up to the evidence stage of his corruption trial.
In a recording of talks with Yaakobi obtained by Haaretz, the commander says there are no undercover officers at the demonstrations. He also denies that Public Security Minister Amir Ohana is behind the arrests of protesters and says the police are acting against people carrying inflatable submarines because they are “dangerous.”
- In secret meetings, anti-Netanyahu activists and police talk arrests, undercover cops and inflatable submarines
- Police indict two suspects for threatening and attacking anti-Netanyahu protesters
- Police are throttling anti-Netanyahu protests
The inflatable submarines are part of the criticism of Israel’s so-called submarine affair, in which associates of Netanyahu are suspected of impropriety in Israel’s purchase of submarines and missile ships from German industrial group ThyssenKrupp.
One participant in the meetings with the police is Tehila Or, who wrote on Facebook: “There was no passing on of information, no names of protesters .... The meeting was not held in secret.”
According to Or, “The meeting for me was to create a human dialogue and communication, out of the understanding that a normal situation for me isn’t created with the help of hatred …. No, I don’t think all police are innocent and moral, just as I don’t think all police are violent thugs.”
Or’s post stoked a raucous debate. “I believe you that you acted in good faith, but it was a big mistake. I certainly am in favor of dialogue and discussion, but not in this case – not at the height of a war, and we’re at war,” one activist responded.
“The police are not our partners, they receive orders from above. It’s a shame. In whose name and in the name of what did you meet with him? In whose name did you speak? A mistake.”
Another activist added: “This is a serious mistake. Police officers are not my friends. The Jerusalem District police are acting despicably not just at Balfour, but also toward the ultra-Orthodox community. The meetings are a big mistake that could very much hurt us.”
Another activist wrote: “Protesters are being arrested in big numbers; they beat them, detain them, humiliate them at the station with strip searches and frisking. You’ve given him legitimacy, something they’re so hungry for.”