As US Grapples With Washington Chaos, Israel’s Protests Continue
Israeli law enforcement, demonstrators reject comparison to Capitol mob
Following the historic events that transpired Wednesday night at the US Capitol building, Israeli law officials on Thursday told The Media Line that such incidents were not likely to occur in Jerusalem, and that law enforcement is prepared to handle any potential similar situations.
Over the past several months, tens of thousands of protesters have gathered on a weekly basis outside the official residence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, demanding his resignation over his alleged mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and his standing trial for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
On several occasions, the demonstrators have staged marches that ended at the gates of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building. A small group of the more raucous protesters have during recent rallies lit torches and attempted to break through police barricades blocking streets and roads, though no demonstrator has ever attempted to breach secured buildings.
Sources in the Israel Police and the Knesset told The Media Line that the events in Washington that shocked the world Wednesday night were well beyond anything carried out by Israeli protesters, noting that nearly all of the demonstrators have been peaceful.
Law enforcement officials also said no special lessons could be gleaned, no emergency meetings were held and no protocols were updated after the failed coup in the United States.
The world watched with trepidation and horror late Wednesday evening as the normally ceremonial event of the United States Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote devolved into chaos, as rioters supporting President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud breached and occupied the Capitol building for several hours.
“I don’t remember anything like that, or anything close to that, happening at the Knesset,” Itzhak Shadar, former sergeant-at-arms of the Knesset, told The Media Line.
“It’s very much a possible scenario, and it must be taken into account,” said Shadar, who headed the Knesset Guard, the body in charge of defending parliament and maintaining order, until 2010. “It simply cannot be allowed to happen.”
“The fact that those people entered the chamber, the Holy of Holies, is incredible. How are you not prepared for that? In life, you have two options – you either succeed or you explain. If you’re explaining yourself – you’ve done something wrong,” he said in criticizing the Capitol Police’s initial failure to secure the building.
The fact that those people entered the chamber, the Holy of Holies, is incredible. How are you not prepared for that? In life, you have two options – you either succeed or you explain. If you’re explaining yourself – you’ve done something wrong
The temporary seizure of the US Capitol forced the evacuation of lawmakers and halted the certification of Joe Biden as the next US president. The spectacle was broadcast around the globe, with world leaders and diplomats commenting on and condemning the failed insurrection.
Netanyahu on Thursday called the incident “a disgraceful act that must be vigorously condemned” during a meeting with visiting US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Netanyahu, who waited more than 12 hours before commenting on Wednesday’s unprecedented events, the last Israeli politician to address the matter, said he had no doubt that “American democracy will prevail,” adding: “It always has.”
Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz both condemned the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday evening, with Lapid saying he was “deeply saddened and shocked” and Gantz expressing hope that the “horrific event will come to an end soon, without any casualties.”
We never disrupted a democratic procedure, we never hurt anyone, we don’t attack police and lawmakers, we didn’t break into anywhere. In our case, we oppose the leader of our country who acts like a fascist, we’re not the ones egged on by him
While right-wing media pundits on Thursday attempted to portray the left-wing and anti-Netanyahu protesters who have lined the Jerusalem streets in recent months as identical to the mob that seized the Capitol, demonstrators vehemently rejected the comparison.
“We never disrupted a democratic procedure, we never hurt anyone, we don’t attack police and lawmakers, we didn’t break into anywhere. In our case, we oppose the leader of our country who acts like a fascist, we’re not the ones egged on by him,” Ariel, 33, who participated in recent rallies, told The Media Line.
“These comparisons – they’re stupid and just wrong.”