Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a woman who interrupted his speech on Tuesday that she was “boring.”
Netanyahu was visiting the northern city of Kiryat Shmona to inaugurate a new emergency room with Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.
The woman, Orna Peretz, protested the closure of an emergency room in the area, echoing frequent complaints by residents of northern Israel that they are discriminated against and have to travel a long way for high-level medical facilities.
In response, Netanyahu told her: “Look, you’re simply uninteresting. You’re boring us. We want to discuss things that interest us. Come back when you have something interesting to say.”
Those remarks earned the premier an ovation from the crowd, but Peretz retorted, “I vote for you every four years, and if that’s how you treat your public then shame on you.”
Netanyahu then continued his speech by saying he and his wife Sara “love Kiryat Shmona.”
After footage of the incident emerged online, Netanyahu’s office accused the woman of “crossing all moral and human lines” by interrupting him while he was talking about his former lawyer Yaakov Weinroth, who died Tuesday morning aged 71 after a battle with cancer.
“Unfortunately, the full picture isn’t being presented,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “We are talking about a woman who interrupted the prime minister, including when he wanted to talk about Yaakov Weinroth.
“The woman shouted ‘Sad day,’ and the prime minister responded that indeed it is a sad day due to Yaakov Weinroth’s death, but unfortunately she decided to interrupt him anyway,” the statement said.
It cited officials close to Netanyahu as saying he “doesn’t normally respond like that to people who interrupt his speeches, but she crossed all moral and human lines when she chose to interrupt while he was speaking about Weinroth’s death. That interruption while he wanted to talk about his friend hurt the prime minister very much.”
Footage from the incident showed that prior to the interruption that Netanyahu responded to, he was speaking about the new emergency room, not Weinroth.
Separately, central opposition figure Yair Lapid was also interrupted Tuesday morning while speaking at a conference in Jerusalem organized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
מתוך ועידת ישראל ללכידות חברתית של הליגה נגד השמצה pic.twitter.com/YRTA4JYNsw
— מעריב אונליין (@MaarivOnline) October 16, 2018
Several people in the crowd started shouting at the Yesh Atid party leader that he was making a political speech against Netanyahu in a conference meant to promote unity, with one saying: “What you’re doing is dividing and defaming, shame on you.”
Lapid replied that young Israelis should stand up for social unity in the face of “lies,” but shortly afterward decided to abandon the rest of his speech and step off the stage.
His office issued a statement saying that “the attempt to shut me up with shouts from the audience at the ADL conference didn’t succeed. The people who yell don’t intimidate me. Political correctness won’t cause us to be a real democracy — battling against politicians corrupting Israeli society will.”