The police detained a 62-year-old man for waving a sign disparaging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Tel Aviv leg of the high-profile Giro d’Italia international cycling race. Police claimed that the demonstrator, Yishai Hadas, who has been involved in the weekly Tel Aviv demonstrations against government corruption, was interfering with the event.
According to witnesses, Hadas, who was accompanied by several other protesters, was carrying a sign that said “Crime Minister.” The slogan is a reference to the multiple criminal investigations that are currently pending against Netanyahu. The protesters initially attempted to hang the sign on a barricade along the race route, but when the police prevented that, the demonstrators began waving it, witnesses said.
The police said that Hadas “was interfering with the proper conduct of the race and did not obey the order of a police officer at the scene.” After being warned, the police said he was detained and brought in for questioning.
Hadas was released hours later.
Michael Sfard, a human rights lawyer who was at the scene, described what happened as follows: “Murmuring erupted there and people asked, ‘why are you mixing in politics?’ Then a policeman came and demanded that they remove the sign. The policeman grabbed the sign and simply tore it up and detained one of the activists. Instead of protecting the man who was holding the sign, they decided to detain him.”