Jerusalem Police Beef Up Security Ahead of anti-Netanyahu Protest

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged corruption and his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, January 2, 2021.
People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged corruption and his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, January 2, 2021.Credit: AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The police are beefing up security preparations ahead of Saturday’s protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, seemingly worried about protesters copying Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. 

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have come to the area of the prime minister’s residence on Saturdays around midday, as part of what they call “the siege on Balfour (Street).” Two weeks ago, protesters were able to approach one of the entrances, where they lit bonfires and torches.

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For this week’s “siege” activities, the police said they will reinforce their deployment much earlier in the day.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana instructed the police on Friday to prepare for the possibility that demonstrators will attempt to enter the official residence, in the wake of U.S. President Trump supporters storming the Capitol building in Washington.

“I gave instructions on preparations for such a scenario so it does not catch us by surprise,” said Ohana in an interview with the Kan public broadcaster. “When you hear some of the demonstrators say we need to throw a firebomb into the prime minister’s residence, this threat certainly exists.”

A police official also expressed fears that there might be “someone inspired” by the events in Washington among the protesters on Saturday. Another official made a similar remark during a hearing in the Jerusalem District Court on Friday on issuing a restraining order against one of the protesters to keep him away from the area of the demonstrations.

Protesters “come early to create a ‘siege on Balfour’ and later they even go a step further and invade (the residence),” the officer said, also mentioning what happened in Washington. Gaby Lasky, the suspect’s lawyer, objected to these claims and said: “The police are reciting the messages from (Netanyahu).”

The police and Shin Bet have not waited for Ohana’s directives to prepare for an attempt by protesters to force their way into the residence. Since the beginning of the protests, they have set up fences and other means that can be used in the event the protesters break through the regular barriers.

The Shin Bet said they “do not comment on security arrangements,” but barbed wire were placed along the roadblocks manned by police near the entrance to Netanyahu’s residence.

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