Police Fine Protesters Against Gantz-Netanyahu Government

Demonstrators outside the home of Gabi Ashkenazi fined up to 5,000 shekels despite protests being exempted from coronavirus ban on gatherings; City of Kfar Saba later nullified fines

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A protesters outside the home of Gabi Ashkenazi in Kfar Saba and a police officer, April 13, 2020.
A protesters outside the home of Gabi Ashkenazi being handed a ticket by a police officer in Kfar Saba, April 13, 2020. Credit: Moti Milrod

Dozens of people demonstrated outside the home of lawmaker Gabi Ashkenazi in Kfar Saba on Monday morning, protesting his Kahol Lavan party’s attempt to form a government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The police handed demonstrators large fines of up to 5,000 shekels ($1400) on grounds that they violated coronavirus health regulations.

Five of the protestors were fined by the police for holding an illegal gathering under the emergency orders, despite such orders stating that demonstrations are permitted – as long as people remain two meters apart.

The protesters said they would stand trial and not pay the fines. They also sent a letter to the police’s legal adviser threatening to appeal to the High Court and requested to cancel the tickets. There is selective enforcement as protesters are fined "for no fault of their own" while leaders like Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin violate regulations and are granted immunity, they claimed. 

The city fined three other protestors for making excessive noise but cancelled the fines after consulting with the city's legal advisor.

The organizers of the demonstration stated that the fines were intended to repress the protest while “in a democratic country the role of the police is to allow the right of protest for citizens."

Eyal Schwartzman, one of the protestors, said that it seemed that the police decided to disperse the demonstration by handing out heavy fines for the protest leaders.

Protestor Meni Versas said: “It seems I shouted too loudly because a policeman came and told me this was a gathering and asked me to leave.” Versas said he told the police officer that this was a legal gathering according to regulations. “He gave me a ticket for 5,000 shekels for refusing to disperse a gathering while Bibi [Netanayhu], Rivlin and [Health Minister Yaakov] Litzman violate the regulations and they don’t do anything to them.”

Guri Lotan, another protestor, said: “It was simply a disgrace. I came to protest with a sign and a drum to shout the truth out loud. The police came to me and gave me a 485 [shekels] fine for the violation of using a musical instrument.”

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