JERUSALEM (JTA) – Protesters accosted Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit as he said Kaddish for his deceased mother.
The incident occurred on Saturday night outside of a synagogue in Petah Tikvah near Mandelblit’s home. The worshippers had stepped outside of the synagogue to participate in the prayers that bless the new moon and Mandelblit joined them to recite the Kaddish.
The protesters, who have participated for over a year in weekly demonstrations outside the attorney general’s home to urge him to prosecute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption in at least two investigations against him, spotted Mandelblit outside of the synagogue and started shouting at him.
Security arrived to help Mandelblit, though his wife reportedly took him home. Organizers of the weekly protests distanced themselves from the incident, saying it was not part of the official protest.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the incident “violent thuggery.”
“The lines of legitimate protest have been crossed recently. Harassment during Shabbat – and at the attorney general’s synagogue, no less – is violent thuggery and denigrating behaviour,” she said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also condemned the protesters. “Shocked at the callous protesters, lacking any sensitivity that interrupted the attorney general while praying in a synagogue and saying Kaddish for his mother. A totally inhuman act. Even the sacred right to protest in Israel’s democracy has limits that can’t be breached,” he said in a tweet.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin also slammed the incident, saying in a tweet: “To prevent a person from praying for the soul of his mother until he is required to be rescued with the help of a security guard? This is a gross trampling on the rights of the individual, freedom of religion and, above all, the basic laws of decency.”
Some 2,000 protesters gathered on Saturday night in Tel Aviv for the eighth week in a row to protest against corruption in the government led by Netanyahu.