Shin Bet Probing Stun Grenade Attack on anti-Netanyahu Protesters' Home

Security service intervenes to ascertain possible political motive. Police believe that the assailants were targeting a neighbor, but the names and addresses of the families on the street are clearly marked

Josh Breiner
Bar Peleg
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Protesters with the 'leftist traitor' banners in the central Israel town of Nes Tziona, October 2020
Protesters with the 'leftist traitor' banners in the central Israel town of Nes Tziona, October 2020Credit: Noam Amir
Josh Breiner
Bar Peleg

The Shin Bet security service is joining an investigation into a stun grenade thrown at a Nes Tziona home, due to suspicions that the family's participation in protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the motive for the attack.

The police’s main line of investigation is that the attackers were actually targeting a neighbor, and that Saturday's case is one of mistaken identity, but the names and addresses of the families on the street are clearly marked. The house did not have any visible indications that the family identified with the anti-Netanyahu protests, such as protest signs.

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The stun grenade was thrown at the house on Saturday night and did not cause any damage or casualties. The family, who do not have criminal records, told the police it was possible that they were attacked because of their participation in the protests. Due to the possibility of a political motive, the Shin Bet began investigating a potential link between the attack and other acts of violence by right-wing activists against the demonstrators.

Both the Shin Bet and the family declined to comment.

The “Jewish branch” of Israel's internal security service is also involved in another investigation in Nes Tziona, in which graffiti reading "A leftist traitor lives here" was spray-painted near the home of anti-Netanyahu activist Zvi Paltiel on Monday. Other graffiti against "leftist traitors" was found in two other cases in the town on streets with visible signs associated with the protest movement.

The protests against Netanyahu in Nes Tziona intensified during the coronavirus lockdowns, and there have been a number of violent clashes between demonstrators and right-wing activists in the town. In September, a group of young people began ripping up signs carried by protesters, and at the end of the month, one of the protesters head-butted a right-wing activist during an argument, injuring him.

The protester was arrested and questioned, and prosecutors have yet to decide on further action. Since the incident, right-wing activists have been demonstrating every week at the intersection where the protests against Netanyahu take place, and police officers stand between the two groups.

'Here lives a leftist traitor': The graffiti outside the home of Zvi Paltiel in Nes Tziona, December 14, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

In October, Channel 13 News revealed messages and a recording from a WhatsApp group of right-wing activists in the town, in which one of the participants encouraged running over protesters, calling for "terror attacks" and “pogroms” against them. Another said they would “screw them over and show them who's in charge here,” and one claimed he beat them with the battery of his electric bicycle.

Following the reports, the police summoned two right-wing activists for questioning, but it was not clear whether this was to investigate them as criminal suspects or to gather information.

During protests in Nes Tziona in November, a number of other violent incidents occurred: Unknown people spread animal feces at an intersection where anti-Netanyahu protesters were gathered; right-wing activists called for the protesters to be "burned"; and in a different incident, the suspects shouted “if only a suicide bomber would come to Balfour Street," the location of the main demonstrations against the prime minister near his official Jerusalem residence.

In further incidents, a protester was attacked and injured, while stickers reading “leftist traitors” were found pasted on the homes of two anti-Netanyahu protesters, as well as elsewhere in the town.

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