A few thousand anti-Netanyahu protesters defy wintry weather to hold rallies

Demonstrations far smaller than usual amid rains; some 3,000 reported in Jerusalem, 2,000 in Caesarea — after pro-PM activists harassed a bereaved family there

People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2020 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2020 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were held Saturday evening amid wintry weather, as demonstrators gathered in plazas, intersections and overpasses throughout the country for the rallies, now on their 22nd week.

Turnout was far lower than usual, possibly due to the rain and cold.

The largest demonstrations appeared to be near the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, where some 2,000-3,000 people gathered.

Police detained four people during the rally and a woman in her 60s was taken for medical treatment after allegedly being shoved to the ground by a cop, according to the Haaretz daily.

In Caesarea, near the premier’s private home, some 1,000-2,000 people were reported to have rallied, after controversy there this week that saw supporters of the prime minister verbally assaulting the family of a fallen Israeli soldier for hosting a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters.

Public figures were particularly apalled by one demonstrator loudly expressing his wish that the family lose another son. The incident was strongly condemned by many politicians, including Netanyahu himself.

According to Channel 12, during the protest in Caesarea, some pro-Netanyahu activists called the demonstrators “traitors,” “Nazis” and “Arab bastards.”

Several hundred people protested in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and in Haifa.

People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on November 21, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Recent weeks have seen lower turnout at the demonstrations, whether as a result of a drop in enthusiasm or of the colder, wetter climate.

The Black Flags protest movement said hundreds of cars were on their way to demonstrate near the prime minister’s private home in Caesarea.

It also said pro-Netanyahu activists hurled rocks at protesters in the northern community of Shlomi, near the Lebanese border.

It panned police for allegedly dismissing the attack as “mischief.”

“This is a new record of shame for the Israel Police,” the group said. It added it would appeal to the courts to compel police to act to defend protests.

Demonstrators have been holding regular protests against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Posted by ‎מצילים את הדמוקרטיה – מחאת הדגלים השחורים‎ on Saturday, November 21, 2020

Netanyahu and his political allies have frequently lashed out at the protesters.

The protests have gone on for months and kept a spotlight on Netanyahu at a time when the long-serving leader’s popularity has declined because of his handling of the virus outbreak.

The country is emerging in gradual stages from a month-long lockdown that the government imposed in September to tamp down coronavirus infections. Restrictions still in place have kept event halls, culture venues, hotels and restaurants closed while the economy continues to take a hit.

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