As Violence Increases, President Rivlin Warns 'Those Who Lay a Hand on Protesters'

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn cautions against over-policing and vows to protect right to protest ■ Haaretz reported earlier that public security minister is pressuring the police to stifle anti-Netanyahu demonstrations

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in his official residence, Jerusalem, January 22, 2020.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in his official residence, Jerusalem, January 22, 2020.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

President Reuven Rivlin weighed in on the increasing violence taking place at the anti-government protests in recent weeks, warning that "those who call for violence [and] those who lay a hand on protesters must be dealt with to the full extent of the law."

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The right to protest, added Rivlin, "is a fundamental value in our democratic culture, and must not be harmed."

Rivlin's comments come come in the wake of a Haaretz report according to which Public Security Minister Amir Ohana is pressuring the police to put an end to the demonstrations taking place outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem.

The president implored on protesters to maintain social distancing measures, public order, coordinate with the police and "show respect to the symbols of the State of Israel."

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn from Benny Gantz Kahol Lavan's party made a more forceful statement, cautioning against "forbidden means, over-policing or extraordinary fines against protesters."

"Maintain social distance and wear masks," Nissenkorn added. "We will safeguard your right to protest."

Senior police officers told Haaretz Monday that Likud minister Ohana is trying to exploit the appointment of the police commissioner to put an end to the ongoing demonstrations

Police officers restrain a protester during a demonstration asking for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's resignation, Jerusalem, July 25, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The officials say Ohana's focus on the issue is “very intense and aggressive.” A police source said he provided several reasons to halt the protests, among which are violations of coronavirus regulations and the disturbances they cause to neighbors in the vicinity.

A police source added that during closed-door sessions, Ohana demanded the police act more forcefully toward protesters