Bahrain protesters chant ‘death to Israel’ ahead of Herzog visit

Opposition activists in Gulf state carry signs calling president a ‘criminal,’ warning him to stay away ahead of Sunday arrival

President Isaac Herzog departs Israel for the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog departs Israel for the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 7, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Protesters in Bahrain chanted “death to Israel” on Friday at rallies against President Isaac Herzog’s upcoming visit to the Gulf state.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in several areas of the tiny country to denounce Herzog’s arrival on Sunday. He will be the first Israeli head of state to visit Bahrain.

The protesters were affiliated with opposition groups that are supportive of Iran, the Ynet news site reported.

Some carried signs with Herzog’s image that said “criminal” and “you are not welcome in Bahrain.”

Local authorities allowed the anti-Israel protests to take place, but will not permit similar events during Herzog’s visit, the report said.

A Bahraini opposition outlet said the demonstrators burned an Israeli flag and squared off with riot police.

A Thursday report from Israel’s Channel 12 said the Shin Bet had decided to boost Herzog’s security detail for the trip following an online social media campaign from Bahraini opposition activists.

One of the activist posts against Herzog said, “All normalization is an act of treason. Do not come.”

Herzog is slated to take off for the state visit on Sunday at the invitation of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

While there, he will meet with members of the local Jewish community and senior government officials and will lead a group of Israeli businesspeople to meet with the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

The next day, Herzog will head to the United Arab Emirates to meet with his Emirati counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi ruler known colloquially as MBZ. Herzog will also attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate.

Israel normalized ties with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords. The agreement paved the way for normalization with Morocco months later.

In January, Herzog visited the UAE’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a two-day trip.

Last month, presumptive incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a phone call with Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

The pair shared their desire to continue to deepen relations between the two countries, and Netanyahu invited Al Khalifa to visit Israel.

In October, a delegation of Israeli paratroopers held a joint jump over Bahrain, alongside soldiers from the Gulf nation, the UAE, and the United States to mark two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords.

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