Police arrested two teens in the northern Israeli town of Shlomi on Sunday on suspicion of throwing stones at people demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after initially refusing to do so, calling it a “mischievous prank” rather than a political act.
In a statement released on Monday, police said the boys, who are aged 14 and 15 and are both residents of Shlomi, threw stones at cars parked near the demonstration and shattered one windshield. They were released with restrictions, but police said the investigation was still in process.
The Black Flags movement, one of the organizers of the protests against Benjamin Netanyahu, said the police “claimed that this was a ‘mischievous prank,’ but after public pressure, brought the two suspected stone throwers in for ‘interrogation.’ Despite the photographed incident, it decided not to bring them before a judge and not to indict them.
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“In Israel, stone throwers are indicted,” the group’s statement continued. “They aren’t given a cup of coffee and a hug. This isn’t the Israel Police, it’s the Netanyahu Police. Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen should be ashamed of what is happening to the organization on his watch.”
Some 3,000 people protested outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, another 2,500 outside Netanyahu’s private home in Caesarea and hundreds more in Tel Aviv on Saturday. In Jerusalem, a 66-year-old woman was evacuated by ambulance after a fall, although eyewitnesses said a policeman had pushed her and then prevented her husband from approaching. Another demonstrator, Sadi Ben Shitrit, was arrested after clashing with a Netanyahu supporter.
There have been dozens of reported attacks by supporters of the prime minister on protesters in the last six months, with very little follow-up from law enforcement. Although protest groups have repeatedly sounded the alarm over threats and violence against demonstrators, only a handful have been indicted for alleged assault.
Meanwhile, it was revealed this week that senior Jerusalem Police officials had put pressure on the prosecution to bring charges against protest leaders, while protesters regularly report instances of police violence going unchecked. Some, including former top police officials, have linked this to the lack of permanent leadership at the helm of Israel Police, and the pressure for district commanders to ingratiate themselves with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a close Netanyahu ally.