Shin Bet Chief Warns of Dangerous Shift After Violent Protests in Yerushalayim

By Yoni Weiss

Police clash with demonstrators during a an anti-government protest outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in Yerushalayim on Tuesday night. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

In the wake of the chaotic demonstrations outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence on Aza Street in Yerushalayim on Tuesday night, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar conducted an overnight inspection with security personnel.

Following his review, Bar remarked, “The aggressive rhetoric on social media and the unsettling incidents observed in Yerushalayim last night are a deviation from the norms of peaceful protest. They challenge our ability to keep public peace and could provoke violent confrontations with law enforcement, potentially impeding their operational duties and jeopardizing individual safety. Distinguishing between lawful protest and violent, unlawful actions is crucial. We are witnessing a worrisome shift toward a perilous direction that we must steer clear of.”

The protest escalated into confrontations between the demonstrators and police as the crowd moved from the vicinity of the Knesset to the President’s residence, and then toward the Prime Minister’s home.

A number of demonstrators were taken into custody for interrogation. The unexpected turnout and attempts by protesters to break through the barricades near the Prime Minister’s residence caught the security forces off guard.

Bar’s walkthrough occurred amidst heightened tensions, ignited by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s recent criticism: “Just last week, I cautioned the Shin Bet director about lapses in the Prime Minister’s security, which was overlooked. I insist that the Shin Bet immediately escalate its vigilance regarding the security of the Prime Minister of Israel and his family. The penetration of thousands into the perimeter of the Prime Minister’s residence, with the Shin Bet overlooking it, is indefensible.”

In efforts to disband the crowd later that night, police resorted to deploying a skunk water cannon. In a notable act of protest, one individual lay beneath the vehicle, halting its operation for around 30 minutes before being apprehended and hailed as a “hero” by fellow protesters.

Minister Benny Gantz weighed in, emphasizing, “The unity of our people is fundamental to our future. We must reject violence from any quarter. Disregarding police directives and breaching barriers, as witnessed last night in Yerushalayim, is unacceptable. While protest is a right and the underlying frustration is understandable, adherence to laws and regulations is non-negotiable.

“In one of our nation’s toughest hours, we remain united as brothers. We cannot regress to the division of Oct. 6,” he concluded.

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