AG Mandelblit's neighbors rally against constant protests

The constant protests outside Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's home are disturbing his neighbors' lives.

Sara Rubenstein ,

Flash 90

In Petah Tikva, protestors rally against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's corruption charges in one area of Goren Square in the Kfar Ganim neighborhood. Nearby, on a traffic island and on both sides of the street, Ethiopian Israelis regularly protest against discrimination. Recently, a third group of demonstrators has joined the fray - nearby residents of Kfar Ganim who are tired of the constant demonstrations, according to a Haaretz report on Thursday.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit happens to live in Petah Tikva, and it's his home that is the target of the demonstrations. Protestors have been demonstrating outside his home for years but recently more protestors have chosen Mandelblit's home as a place to demonstrate and the frequency and length of the protests have increased dramatically.

In the past, protestors used to regularly gather outside Mandelblit's home only on Saturday evenings, calling for Netanyahu to be indicted for corruption. In June, Ethiopian Israelis also began protesting outside Mandelblit's home, after moving their protest from Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. They now protest every day, gathering around 338 feet from Mandelblit's home and shouting through megaphones. They stay every night until close to 11 p.m. when the police arrive to disperse them.

“You can’t live this way,” Ido, who lives nearby, told Haaretz. “It isn’t about the subject of the protests. Parents just want to get home, put the kids to bed and go to sleep.” Ido adds that if the protesters demonstrated less often, the neighbors would have more sympathy with their cause.

Petah Tikva residents who live in the same neighborhood as Mandelblit have lost their patience with the constant demonstrations and are organizing together to weigh their options. They considered holding a counterprotest outside the Tel Aviv home of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut but instead protested on their own street. Petah Tikva Deputy Mayor Tzadok Ben Moshe joined their protest.

“What about my children? They can’t sleep,” a neighborhood resident shouted during the protest.

“What about my children? They’re being killed,” an Ethiopian Israeli protester retorted.

Petah Tikva Mayor Rami Greenberg has tried to intervene by fining demonstrators but then the police department's legal counsel told Greenberg that fining demonstrators was "problematic" since protests are legally permissible. However, Greenberg is not giving up so easily and has promised to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. “I won’t let the people of Petah Tikva become hostage to political wars,” he said.

“We have no position on the content of the demonstrations,” Greenberg said. “We don’t care who’s demonstrating about what. We believe in freedom of expression, but this has gone beyond freedom of expression and has begun to badly impair the basic rights of the neighborhood’s residents.”

“Anybody with a beef is coming here to the neighborhood and bothering the neighbors, not the attorney general,” Ben Moshe, the deputy mayor added. “I don’t get it. This is an extraordinary nuisance. It’s become protest central for the whole country.”

Unfortunately, the counterprotest made things worse for the neighbors by spurring Ethiopian Israelis to call for more protestors on social media, and dozens joined the original protestors the night after the counterprotest.

On Tuesday, the police released new guidelines for the protests. Only five people are allowed to demonstrate outside Mandelblit's home; larger demonstrations can only take place at Goren Square.