Police close off northern community to block protests against vacationing Netanyahus

Cops shut entrance to Neve Ativ to restrict demonstrators in Golan Heights; anti-judicial overhaul movement plans to set up camp for prime minister’s entire stay

Israelis protest against the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in Moshav Neve Ativ, Golan Heights, August 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Israelis protest against the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in Moshav Neve Ativ, Golan Heights, August 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Dozens of demonstrators opposing the government’s judicial overhaul traveled Monday to the Golan Heights to protest outside the hotel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife are vacationing.

The premier and his spouse, Sara, are staying at the Panda Hotel in Neve Ativ. As a result of the protests, police closed off the entrance to the community, only allowing in residents and hotel guests, Hebrew media reported.

Brothers in Arms, the anti-overhaul group representing reservists, set up tents outside Neve Ativ in order to demonstrate throughout the couple’s vacation.

Although the community was almost hermetically sealed off, about 20 of Neve Ativ’s 141 residents made use of their status to demonstrate against Netanyahu in relatively close proximity to the hotel, the report added.

“We’re not happy with [Netanyahu’s] visit, which is destroying the fabric of life in our town for four days,” a local resident told Ynet. “The police aren’t allowing our guests to come in. I hope the rest of the demonstrators, who are coming from all over the country and the north, will be able to arrive and explain to the prime minister that he isn’t wanted in our town, or anywhere.”

According to Haaretz, protesters traveled to Neve Ativ with organized buses. The anti-overhaul movement had begun preparing for the Netanyahus’ visit last week.

Hotel guests told Ynet that they were not allowed to park their cars near the hotel, and therefore had to drag their luggage up a hill to reach the entrance.

Anti-overhaul demonstrations have regularly targeted members of the government with protests and heckling outside their homes and throughout the country at public and private events.

In March, demonstrators gathered outside Netanyahu’s hotel during his trip to London. In June, protesters disrupted a speech by Economy Minister Nir Barkat in New York City. Also in June, protesters following Knesset Constitutional Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman in the streets of New York City caused the Religious Zionism lawmaker to lose his cool.

According to Channel 12 news, Netanyahu is not taking this latest vacation abroad because his recent pacemaker implant prevents him from air travel.

The highly contentious judicial overhaul would remove many of the High Court of Justice’s checks and balances over the government. The first law of the overhaul – the “Reasonableness” bill – was passed in July, barring the court from striking down cabinet or ministerial decisions as being “unreasonable in the extreme.”

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