Police block weekly protest outside AG’s home
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Police block weekly protest outside AG’s home

4 held as demonstrators prevented from holding gathering calling for action in the Netanyahu corruption probes

Demonstrators protest near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva on August 5, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Demonstrators protest near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva on August 5, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Police on Saturday blocked a weekly protest outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and detained one of the organizers.

Police prevented demonstrators from reaching the Petah Tikvah home, where they have been holding increasingly larger rallies for several months. They have been protesting against Mandelblit’s handling of a number of graft cases involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, and the attorney general’s alleged delaying tactics.

Officers also stopped the car of Menny Naftali, the principal organizer of the protests and detained him, Hebrew media reported. Three others demonstrators were arrested.

Police said the demonstration was prevented because it had not received the necessary license.

Naftali is a former caretaker of the Prime Minister’s Residence. He was awarded NIS 170,000 (about $43,735) in damages in February after a labor court accepted his claims of mistreatment by Sara Netanyahu during his employment. He had his arm broken during a demonstration outside the attorney general’s home two months ago.

In recent weeks activists from Netanayhu’s Likud party have also held counter protests nearby.

Menny Naftali, the former Prime Minister's Residence manager, seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash90)
Menny Naftali, the former Prime Minister’s Residence manager, seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash90)

The protests have gone ahead despite a Supreme Court ruling in April that although protests are an important and central component of any democratic society, the tactic should not be used to exert improper pressure on public servants by harassing them in their private residences.

In late March, the Justice Ministry decided to boost the security presence in front of the attorney general’s home, two months after Mandelblit announced that a criminal investigation involving Netanyahu had been launched.

Subsequently, graffiti on Mandelblit’s home was noticed by neighbors and passersby, reading “jail for the corrupt,” “collaborator” and “champagnes” – a reference to one of the Netanyahu investigations for allegedly accepting expensive gifts from US businessmen, with the word juxtaposed next to a dollar sign.

A permanent security guard has been posted outside of his home in addition to other unspecified security measures.

Protesters backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show their support outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in Petah Tikva on August 05, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Protesters backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show their support outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in Petah Tikva on August 05, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The attorney general — a former cabinet secretary to the prime minister — is overseeing two separate criminal investigations against Netanyahu, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000.

Case 1000 revolves around alleged illicit gifts given to Netanyahu and his family from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne said to have been given to the prime minister and his wife Sara by Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Netanyahu and his wife are said to have denied that receiving the gifts constituted a criminal offense, claiming the value of the items was significantly lower than reported and that they were mere “trifles” exchanged between close friends.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a ceremony in Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a ceremony in Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Case 2000 is focused on an alleged clandestine quid pro quo deal made between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher and owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the prime minister is said to have promised Mozes he would advance legislation to reduce the circulation of Yedioth’s main commercial rival, the freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for friendlier coverage from Yedioth. No such deal was ever implemented.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

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