Protest Leader Detained After Anti-corruption Demo in Front of Netanyahu's Caesarea Home

Dozens called on authorities to probe Netanyahu's alleged involvement in procuring submarines and patrol boats from a German company

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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A police officer clashes with protesters carrying an inflatable submarine in Caesarea, December 25, 2020.
A police officer clashes with protesters carrying an inflatable submarine in Caesarea, December 25, 2020.Credit: Rami Shllush
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Several dozen people demonstrated on Friday in Caesarea, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's role in the so-called submarine affair be investigated.

The protesters carried inflatable submarines and marched near Netanyahu's private home. Police detained a protest organizer, Roee Peleg, from the Investigation Now demonstration group, after the march on suspicion of violating public order.

The affair centers around an agreement with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp to buy submarines and patrol boats; the latter would protect Israel’s natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean. At issue in these deals, worth 1.5 billion euros and 430 million euros, respectively, are the dealings between top Israeli officials and ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel.

The arrest of Roee Peleg

Senior IDF officers, public officials and a number of people close to Netanyahu are suspected of demanding and receiving bribes to advance the deals with ThyssenKrupp. In an affidavit submitted to the High Court of Justice in October, former Defense Ministry Director General Maj. Gen. (res.) Dan Harel said that Netanyahu applied unusual pressure to buy a seventh submarine from ThyssenKrupp.

Harel described an argument between Netanyahu and himself on the matter: “I had the impression that there was an interest whose nature is not clear to me behind this procurement initiative.”

Roni Alfedri, a protester from Karkour who attended the rally, told Haaretz that when demonstrators asked police why Peleg had been arrested, they said he was detained for a "traffic violation." Despite this, the police did not mention that accusation in their public statement, and said that that the demonstration had been illegal, and that "following the march, the police detained the leader of the march, a 35-year-old resident of central Israel, for investigation at the Hadera police station."

When the investigation is complete, the police statement said, it will be decided whether to hold a hearing Saturday on extending Peleg's detention.

In response, Investigation Now said: "The Israel Police must investigate the affair involving the submarines and naval ships. These false arrests will not scare us away from continuing to demand a commission of inquiry that will clarify whether the prime minister is intermingling personal benefit for himself and his inner circle with the security of Israel"

Earlier this week, the members of the committee appointed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz to examine the submarine affair resigned en masse, due to a dispute with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit over the panel's jurisdiction.

Mendelblit has argued that it is necessary to ensure that the committee’s work will not interfere with the criminal proceedings. The committee had intended on summoning a large number of witnesses to testify. Haaretz reported last month that Mendelblit instructed Gantz not to convene the committee until he had set limits on its activities, so as not to harm the criminal proceedings against a number of those under suspicion in the submarine affair.

Suspect questioned for assault in Binyamina

A 28-year-old resident of the northern town of Pardes Hannah was arrested Thursday on suspicion of attacking protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Binyamina Junction on Tuesday.

Police detained and questioned the suspect, who was released, but the investigation is ongoing.

One of the protesters, Janna Zimmer, said the suspect, who was driving a truck, struck one of the protesters at the intersection. She said, "the driver got out and grabbed one of the protesters by the shirt, ripped it and threw him on the ground, making him fall on his back, and then he sat on him and started beating him."

Zimmer said another passenger got out of the truck and attacked the protesters as well, and tried to grab one of their flags.

"The protester they pounced on held her phone as if she was filming, and so they ran off," Zimmer said. "The truck driver shouted at her and tried to grab the telephone. Police arrived a few minutes later."
She said that at previous protests, bottles had been thrown at them and they had been cursed at, "but this time a red line was crossed."

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