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Protesters allowed into Golan town where Netanyahu is vacationing

Police determine that protesters can gather some 300 meters (985 feet) from the prime minister's hotel.

An Israeli protests against the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, at Moshav Neve Ativ, Aug. 7, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
An Israeli protests against the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, at Moshav Neve Ativ, Aug. 7, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

Israeli police have let hundreds of anti-judicial reform demonstrators into the Golan Heights community where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vacationing on Tuesday, local media said.

The decision came after activists submitted a petition to the Supreme Court requesting a conditional order and “urgent hearing” on allowing activists to protest nearby.

Police have now said the protesters can gather some 300 meters (985 feet) from the prime minister’s hotel.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, arrived on Monday evening at the Panda Hotel, an alpine-style resort in Moshav Neve Ativ on the slopes of Mount Hermon.

Demonstrators who attempted to reach the site were initially stopped by a large police presence. Protest organizers complained in a statement Tuesday that police set up roadblocks and turned the moshav into a closed area.

“IDs are checked, and entry is for authorized persons only,” the statement said.

Israeli Attorney Gonen Ben Yitzhak, in submitting the petition to the court, said: “The ruling regarding the freedom of demonstration does not allow the police to completely close a place and deny citizens the freedom of movement and the exercise of the right to protest.”

“We see before our eyes an event reserved for dark dictatorial regimes. The ruler and his wife go on vacation in a site that turns into a shut-off and enclosed space, and the only thing missing is the arrival of the Jerusalem Flower Band to cheer the couple so that they don’t hear what the people think of them,” he said.

Yitzhak accused the police of becoming “servants of the dictatorship in the making” and said the court must intervene to allow the protests “even if it means Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu will hear what the public has to say to them.”

Protesters did succeed in setting up a tent encampment at some distance from the moshav, which they dubbed “Democracy Camp.”

Anti-judicial reform protesters at a tent camp outside Moshe Neve Ativ in northern Israel in August 2023. Source: Twitter.

Moshav members criticized the tactics of the protest movement, which they say has crossed all red lines.

On Monday, protesters harassed Minister for the Advancement of Women’s Status May Golan while she sat at a restaurant with her mother at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

“To what other depths of decay will those anarchists sink?” the minister tweeted after the confrontation. “To verbally and physically attack my 76-year-old mother is completely out of bounds, so I had to protect her with my body.”

Golan added: “I have one message for all the anarchists: Move on. This reform will continue to advance even more vigorously and no violent protest or particularly ugly personal attack will help you.”

On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 14 reported that Netanyahu’s older son, Yair, was being surveilled by private investigators hired by members of the protest movement.

Examples cited in the report include an incident in Puerto Rico a few months ago, in which a private investigator twice attempted to rent a room in the resort where Yair Netanyahu was staying.

In another incident in Miami Beach, the 32-year-old’s security guards noticed someone taking pictures of him and approached the individual, who was identified as a private investigator.

Political officials familiar with the situation told Channel 14 that the Shin Bet, tasked with protecting the prime minister’s son, was not doing enough to investigate who was behind the surveillance or to prevent it.

The agency said that the situation is being handled.

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