Police arrested 12 people as thousands gathered Saturday evening outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, his private home in Caesarea and junctions throughout the country in the latest wave of protests calling for his resignation.
Some 10,000 people protested near the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem and began marching toward the city center.
The protest and march were approved by the Israel Police, saying they will not tolerate any disturbances of the public order. Last week, five protesters were injured after being attacked by far-right counter demonstrators.
The police have also been accused of using excessive force against peaceful protesters, deploying riot control units in large numbers, as well as undercover officers, mounted units and water cannons.
The protest went on until after midnight, with several clashes erupting at around 1:30 A.M. after police forcibly removed protesters who remained in the area. A group of anti-government protesters refused to clear the area, chanting “An entire generation demands a future,” while sitting on the ground.
Hundreds also gathered outside Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea, under heavy police presence. One protester, a resident of the luxurious suburban town, called on Netanyahu to “Stay in Caesarea, we’d love to have you here. But you must vacate the official residence in Balfour.”
Former Knesset member for the Zionist Union Yael Cohen Paran was present at the protest in Caesarea. “This week we have seen incitement, incitement against organizers of the Crime Minister movement ... This, of all things, has brought everyone out of their houses, out of their indifference.” Paran added, “The people sitting in the Knesset don’t care. I was there. This is a disconnected government, they care only about themselves and need to go home. Our camp needs to renew itself, elections are coming soon.”
Across the country, thousands of activists representing the anti-corruption “Black Flag” movement congregated on some 260 of the country’s largest bridges and junctions for the sixth consecutive Saturday. Large police forces were deployed at all protest sites. Four men were detained near the southern towns of Ashkelon and Sderot for harassing and spitting on demonstrators. One was detained after throwing a stone at protesters in Haifa. Protesters in Tel Aviv said they were pepper sprayed by two people on a motorcycle.
Police have opened an investigation into reports of a car attempting to ram into protesters at a junction in Rehovot. According to two eyewitnesses, two women with a child in the back seat drove up on the sidewalk, turned around and attempted to ram into people again. “She cursed us, calling us loser leftists and threw bottles at as. She had a look of hatred in her eyes,” Ehud Geiger, who was protesting at the intersection said. “She can’t say she just drifted out of her lane, she had two tires up on the sidewalk."
Dana Miles, an activist for the the left-wing NGO Peace Now, said that Israelis must stand up against incitement. “This government-endorsed incitement terrifies me as someone who grew up here and knows exactly what it could lead to. It is our responsibility to stop a leadership that defends violence on the streets.”
Gali Shorer from Kibbutz Shefayim told Haaretz that this is her first time attending an anti-Netanyahu protest. “Suddenly it hit me in the gut: Where are we going? What kind of reality are my kids growing up to? I don’t know where this will lead, but I’m hoping that something different can happen here.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered at Charles Clore Park in Tel Aviv to protest the government’s failure to manage the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Despite the police having only permitted a protest at the park, several dozens began marching through the city.
Yafa Ben Porat, 83, said this was her first time protesting "because all week I’ve been hurting over what the Knesset and lawmakers were doing. They’re liars, they’re frauds, Bibi [Netanyahu] has an empire in Caesarea, everyone needs to get up and join the protest ... We should be getting the money, not the parasites.”
Ronit, who lives in central Israel, brought her daughter and other relatives with her to the protest. She said: “I’ve brought the next generation with me to make sure that our rights are preserved also for the next generation. They should have a government that serves them and not the other way around.”
Dozens of people associated with Sheffi Paz, a far-right, anti-asylum seekers activist, arrived at the private residence of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut. They protested the High Court’s refusal to forbid the protests surrounding Netanyahu’s official residence following a petition by some the area’s residents.
Sheffi Paz was later arrested for allegedly spray-painting graffiti on near Hayut’s house.
Police Jerusalem District commander Doron Yedid left the protest after it became known that Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz tested positive for the coronaviorus. The two had met last week.
The Jerusalem protests have been taking place regularly for over a month near the prime minister’s residence, which has become the epicenter of the protest movement.
On Thursday, 14 members of the so-called La Familia, an extremist organization of fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, were arrested at an anti-Netanyahu protest on suspicion of attacking demonstrators. The detainees were released on Friday morning.