Middle east

‘Death to Israel’: Bahraini Activists Threaten Israeli President Ahead of Goodwill Trip

Protesters in Bahrain against Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the country. December 2022.Bahrain and Israel established relations in September 2020 under the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered talks which also saw the normalization of ties between Tel Aviv and the UAE, Sudan and Morocco.Bahrainis took to the streets of cities and towns across the tiny 760 square km nation protesting Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s upcoming visit to the kingdom, warning him to stay away and calling him a “criminal.”Groups of protesters gathered in the capital city of Manama, and towns and villages including Diraz, Karrana and Sitra on Friday and Saturday, chanting “death to Israel” and carrying posters of Herzog in a red ‘no’ sign, warning the president that he is “not welcome in Bahrain.” Others carried Palestinian flags and signs reading “kick the Zionists off our land.”Protests in at least one location Friday were said to have culminating in the burning of an Israeli flag, and scuffles with police. Local authorities allowed demonstrations to go ahead before Herzog’s visit, but promised to step up security on Sunday as the Israeli head of state arrives in the country.

Physical demonstrations were accompanied by online manifestations, with social media users from Bahrain and across the Arab-speaking world sharing posts reading “Normalization is treason. Do not come,” and photoshopped photos of a demonic-looking Herzog against the backdrop of an Israeli flag on fire.Herzog, 62, will be the first Israeli president to visit Bahrain since ties between the two countries were established in late 2020. His visit to the kingdom will be the first leg of a mini regional tour which will also take him to the United Arab Emirates – his second trip to that country since January, to participate in a forum. While in Bahrain, Herzog is expected to meet with local officials and representatives of the Jewish community.Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, reportedly plans to “significantly” step up the president’s security escort during his visit to the kingdom, which will begin Sunday, amid fears of “pro-Iranian opposition” disrupting the trip.IndiaIsraeli Ambassador Apologizes to India After Filmmaker Slams ‘Kashmir Files’ 29 November, 11:28 GMTHerzog was personally invited to Bahrain by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Last month, presumptive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Al Khalifa to visit Israel. Herzog’s visit is expected to be accompanied by the pomp and pageantry afforded to a visit by a head of state, including Israeli flags lining the streets and a military orchestra playing Israeli’s national anthem.Bahrain hosted now ex-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this year.The two countries are negotiating a free trade pact they hope to sign by the end of the year.Concerns over Herzog’s security are not entirely unwarranted. During his January trip to Abu Dhabi, Yemen’s Houthi militia launched missile strikes against the UAE.Bahrain and other regional nations have stepped up defense ties, with officials from the kingdom as well as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia recently joining US and Israeli officials in discussing ways to improve collective air defense cooperation against Iran.2022 FIFA World CupFirst Commercial Flight From Israel to Qatar Leaves Ben Gurion Airport20 November, 12:34 GMTIn October, Israeli paratroopers and troops from Bahrain, the UAE and the US held a joint parachute jump to celebrate the anniversary of the Abraham Accords.The unfriendly messaging to Herzog ahead of his trip to Bahrain is the second time in days that Israel has faced hostility in a country it has nominally good relations with. Earlier this week, a series of tense exchanges between Israeli journalists and fans at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar went viral, with tourists from countries which had established ties with Tel Aviv rejecting journalists’ attempts to record friendly conversations and criticizing them over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.WorldErdogan Officially Appoints Turkish Ambassador to Israel: Decree12 November, 09:42 GMT


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