Police Expected to Indict Some anti-Netanyahu Protest Leaders

The prosecution has to approve indictments for obstructing police work and violence against officers before the anti-Netanyahu activists can be charged

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Attorney Gonen Ben Izhak lying down beneath a police water cannon at Jerusalem's Balfour Street, July 18, 2020.
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The police are expected to file indictments in coming days against several of the protest leaders against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The protest leaders will be accused of, among other charges, obstructing a police officer on duty and violence against police officers. Senior Jerusalem District Police officials said in closed-door meetings that they have exerted heavy pressure on the prosecution to bring charges against them.

The prosecution has to approve the charges even for crimes that the police have the authority to file independent indictments for, such as obstructing an officer. This is due to new protocols that were drafted in August as not to discourage freedom of speech.

Most of the indictments concern incidents that took place several months ago during the ongoing weekly demonstrations outside the prime minister's official residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street.

One of the protest leaders that the police are working to charge is attorney Gonen Ben Itzhak, a prominent member of the anti-Netanyahu Black Flags and Crime Minister movements, who is suspected of lying down under police water cannons.

Police surround a protester outside the prime minister's residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street, November 14, 2020.
Police surround a protester outside the prime minister's residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street, November 14, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

They are also working to indict Yishai Hadas of Crime Minister, as well as high-profile activists who have been investigated on suspicion of attacking officers. Some of the activists have been called in to the Jerusalem District Police Station for additional questioning over the past few days regarding events that occurred in July and August.

Haaretz has learned that over the past few months, the police have recommended the prosecution file dozens of indictments against demonstrators, the majority from the anti-Netanyahu camp. For example, the police recommended that 5 demonstrators who protested against Netanyahu in front of the Knesset in March be charged with violating a legal order, illegal resistance and illegal gathering.

As of October, the police have handed the prosecution 33 cases that they say involve offenses that took place during protests, such as illegal gatherings, which only the prosecution are authorized to handle. The prosecution has thus far filed indictments in three of the cases, pending a hearing.

The police claim that the prosecution is taking a hardline approach, and that the police are demanding that they bring charges against the activists. "It makes no sense that after months of protests and dozens of investigations, not a single indictment has been filed," one senior Jerusalem Police official recently said.

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