About fifteen supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protested outside the home of the Farkash family, who are neighbors of the prime minister in Caesarea, on Tuesday for hosting anti-Netanyahu activists on their roof.
One protester sparked outrage for disrespecting the death of the family's son, Capt. Tom Farkash, who was killed in a helicopter crash during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. “The fact that you lost a son doesn’t give you the right,” they yelled. The statement was roundly condemned by most political figures in Israel, including Netanyahu's own Likud party.
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“We will stay here as long as you host the anarchists on the roof of your house,” the protester said. “We won’t give you the freedom of expression that you’ve been used to.”
Anti-Netanyahu protesters have regularly demonstrated outside his private residence for several weeks, calling for his resignation.
In a WhatsApp group message sent prior to Tuesday’s demonstration, firebrand Likud activist Orly Lev wrote: “Friends, … we will be going to the Faraksh [sic] home in Caesarea on Tuesday at 7:00. We need to let them have it there. This family hosts the [anti-Netanyahu] Black Flags [organization] every week and terrorizes the home of the Netanyahu family.”
Following the protest in front of her house, Tom Farkash’s mother, Anat, released a statement saying the protesters "came to attack and to tell us, a private family, ‘shame on you for being a bereaved family, shame on you for believing in democracy, shame on you for allowing citizens to express their opinion.'
"Dear Likudniks who stood under our window this evening – we are fighting for all of the citizens of the State of Israel. Our Tom was killed for you. We deserve better,” she added.
Anat Farkash also took issue with the police, "for permitting them to stand under our window – private citizens – and not doing a thing. They put up fences and black window shades for Bibi [Netanyahu], while at our house, common citizens, they stand there and for an hour let them express the hate, resentment and frustration that they have, because we believe in democracy."
The police said that they arrived at the scene to put a stop to the noise and asked the protesters to move to the end of street because the law does not permit protests directly in front of a private home. The demonstrators refused. A woman with a loudspeaker was detained for questioning and later released, the police said.
In 2007, addressing the issue of demonstrations in front of private residences, the High Court of Justice ruled that police have an obligation to prevent a situation in which “it makes life difficult for residents, harms their security or requires them to leave [their home].” The police have the right to place restrictions on such demonstrations, including the time at which they is held and their duration, the court stated.
Major political figures condemned the statement. President Reuven Rivlin said on his Twitter account that "What happened outside the Farkash family's home is not a protest. This is not the way. And don't say 'but..' and enough with 'You didn't say anything when...' Just say loudly and clearly: This is not our way and we will not be silent, because silence is mire."
Opposition leader Yair Lapid called it "a new low," asking Netanyahu to "roundly condemn this ugly attack."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the leader of the Kahol Lavan party and a former Israeli military chief of staff said, “As someone who has lost many brothers in arms, I feel shame this morning. There are limits that are not crossed. The incitement and polarization will not lead us anywhere.”
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“This is not the right wing. It’s just a disgrace,” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, from Derech Eretz, a breakaway faction to the right of Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party said. “I expect Netanyahu, a bereaved brother, to stop such conduct.” The prime minister’s brother Yoni was killed in the Israeli Entebbe airport raid in Uganda in 1976, launched to free Israelis that had been taken hostage by Palestinian militants.
The prime minister's Likud party later issued a statement saying that “as someone who has personally experienced the anguish of bereavement, Prime Minister Netanyahu has throughout his life made sure to respect the feeling of loss of all bereaved families, and that’s how everyone, on the right and the left, must act. The prime minister strongly condemns any statement that has to do with the loss of the bereaved, including a statement such as the one in Caesarea.”
The statement added that “unrelatedly, everyone must respect the High Court of Justice ruling that says it is forbidden to protest within fewer than 300 meters away from a public official’s home, a ruling that is systematically violated in front of the prime minister’s home in Caesarea.”
Despite the Likud statement, the prime minister’s son Yair rebuffed the criticism in a tweet in which he too noted that his father was from a bereaved family, yet he could “be trampled on, hounded and humiliated.” The Farkash family “is hosting anarchists on the roof every week who shout curses at the prime minister and also mention Yoni. But the right to protest in the other direction?!? Heaven forbid ….”