Editorial |

Netanyahu Will Have Protesters' Blood on His Hands

Haaretz Editorial
Police scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, July 28, 2020.
Police scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, July 28, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz Editorial

Five protesters were injured in an assault at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against Public Security Minister Amir Ohana Tuesday night. The protesters were stabbed with broken bottles, punched, walloped with chairs, and pepper-sprayed. Two of them were slashed in the neck; one of them required stitches.

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Although many protesters found it relatively easy to spot the disrupters, the police didn’t lift a finger to stop the onslaught. Furthermore, photographs from the field show the assailants marching near undercover police detectives and throwing the sticks they were holding into the trash, while the police detectives didn’t do a thing in response.

This material warrants serious review, for we must ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no collaboration between the assailants and the police. It is doubtful whether Ohana, who incites against the protesters all day long, is capable of ordering such a review.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana is seen on Knesset swearing-in day, May 17, 2020.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky

The prime minister’s response to the assaults on the protesters included the usual lip service (“there’s no room for violence”) and an attempt to blame everyone (Ehud Barak, Yair Lapid, and the “anarchists” on the left). Everyone, that is, except the person who has been dividing the people and stirring up an inflammatory atmosphere for the past 11 years – he himself. It seems that the protesters’ bloodstains didn’t concern him too much; he was more worried about the protest art installation exhibited at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, entitled “The Last Supper.” The installation, that went up Tuesday, showed a statue of Netanyahu seated at a table filled with all sorts of delicacies and eating a cake resembling an Israeli flag.

Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Credit: Ariel Schalit,AP

The assault on the protesters in Tel Aviv was not an isolated incident, contrary to what the right says each and every time about a “rotten apple” taking the law into their own hands. Political violence in Israel tends to move in one direction: From right to left. This isn’t only about the past history of political violence – Rabin’s assassination and the murder of Emil Grunzweig. Even as recently as the beginning of the week three people were arrested on suspicion of assaulting protesters at various spots in the country.

It’s also no coincidence that Ohana’s house has become a focal point of a new protest. All this has happened because Ohana chose to use his power detrimentally to influence the police to take steps against the protesters outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem: to fine them arbitrarily, use a heavy hand against them and even prevent them from protesting at the site.

Pyromaniac Benjamin Netanyahu and his henchman, Ohana, dare to accuse the left of “challenging the foundations of Israeli society” and fostering an “atmosphere of hatred.” After pouring fuel on every possible public venue and then handing out matches to everyone, they have no shame in preaching about the need “to lower the flames.” This is their pattern of behavior: To incite, and then to tweet; to divide and then condemn. This game of double talk is liable to end with yet another murder. The blood will be on Netanyahu’s hands.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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