Israel Police Detain 10 Anti-government Protesters Near Gantz's Residence in Three Days

Police says those detained defied conditions for protest, but they were ultimately released without conditions

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Protesters demonstrating in front of Defense Minister Benny Gantz's residence in Rosh Ha'ayin, September 28, 2020.
Protesters demonstrating in front of Defense Minister Benny Gantz's residence in Rosh Ha'ayin, September 28, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

The police detained two women for questioning on Wednesday for protesting in front of the home of Defense Minister Benny Gantz in central Israel, as part of a wave of anti-government demonstrations across the country in recent months, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his corruption trial and protesting the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak and the economic crisis that ensued.

This comes a day after four protesters were detained after demonstrating near his residence. Six protesters were detained for the same reason the previous day.

Dozens participated in another demonstration is Gantz’s neighborhood in Rosh Ha’ayin on Wednesday evening, to protest the way anti-government demonstrators have been treated.

Gantz's office said he spoke with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana and asked him to permit the demonstrations near his house and protect the right to protest. 

The police said that protesters have not met the conditions set last month by Central District commander Maj. Gen. Ami Eshed in accordance with the guidelines issued by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, which allow protesters to hold a quiet protest of up to five people at intersections hundreds of meters from the home of a public figure. However, Gantz’s home is considered an official residence and the attorney general’s instructions do not apply to it.

The 10 people detained on Monday and Tuesday refused to be released with restrictions, and were ultimately released unconditionally. “This fact only strengthens our claim that these are false arrests and [that the police] have no authority to distance the protesters from the home of the alternative prime minister,” said Gabi Lasky, one of the detainees’ lawyers, referring to Gantz. “The police are afraid that the courts will scrutinize Eshed’s orders.”

On Tuesday, the anti-corruption Crime Minister movement told Eshed that the document detailing the restrictions, which was presented to the demonstrators at the protest site, was “wrong and out of touch.” Eshed “sends the protesters to demonstrate in distant and irrelevant places, without eye contact with or connection to those they are protesting against,” a Crime Minister representative said.

Haaretz reported on Monday that the Shin Bet security service installed a black curtain at the entrance to Gantz’s street, similar to the one placed near the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street – a move that also sparked criticism among protesters.

“Placing a black curtain at the entrance to his home is the closest Gantz will ever get to Balfour Street,” the Kumi Israel (“Stand up, Israel”) movement said. “He has betrayed his voters and killed the sliver of hope that remains in their heart. Now he has decided to send the armed militias of [Public Security Minister Amir] Ohana against the protesters and jail them illegally.”

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