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Over 10,000 protest against Netanyahu in Jerusalem; 7 arrested

Demonstrators hold march through capital despite police opposition; officer filmed shoving, striking protesters in Paris Square

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near the Chords bridge, at the entrance to Jerusalem, August 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near the Chords bridge, at the entrance to Jerusalem, August 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Hundreds of anti-government protesters held a march in Jerusalem on Saturday night, despite police orders banning the movement of demonstrators.

The protesters marched from the capital’s Chords Bridge to the Prime Minister’s Residence, despite police refusing to grant permission for the march.

Police attempted to stop the procession, leading to light scuffles and at seven arrests, but then relented and allow the marchers to proceed to the main protest area near the Prime Minister’s Residence, the Ynet news site reported.

Estimates put the number of marchers at around 1,500 and the total number of protesters at 10,000.

Following clashes between demonstrators and right-wing counter-protesters last month, the police ordered a halt to marches, saying that it was easier to control the events and protect demonstrators while they were stationary.

Thousands of other protesters gathered at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. The Kan public broadcaster reported light scuffles at the scene between protesters and police, but no arrests.

Footage posted by Channel 13 said to be from Paris Square showed a police officer shoving and striking demonstrators.

Police said a stone thrown at officers injured one of them.

Hundreds of others demonstrated at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private home in the coastal town of Caesarea, and hundreds more gathered at bridges and intersections throughout the country.

A passing driver in the city of Netanya confronted protesters there and tore up one of their signs in footage published by the Ynet news site.

There was a large police presence in the area around the Jerusalem protest, and officers stationed water cannons near the entrance to the city and by the Supreme Court, according to the Haaretz daily. Police closed streets around the Prime Minister’s Residence to traffic.

Protesters are rallying in Jerusalem and elsewhere against Netanyahu as part of ongoing demonstrations over the premier’s indictment on corruption charges and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We won’t let you suppress the protests. We’ll march with you or without you. Your role is to protect us, our role is to protect a collapsing country,” protest organizers said in a statement quoted by the Walla news site.

Yaniv Adir, 43, from the North of Israel held a sign reading “A concerned right winger.” This was his first time at the Balfour protests. Adir grew up in a Likud family and had voted Likud himself up until three election cycles ago.

“I am waiting to return home [to the Likud] and I can’t because the people who call themselves the Likud today are people that I do not connect to … and I am honestly a little ashamed,” he said. “As a right winger, it hurts me even more because I am part of the people who chose this government and it [the government] went and rotted over time and I no longer feel that I am represented.”

On Friday, some 5,000 protesters demanded Netanyahu’s resignation in Jerusalem.

Protesters have been holding regular rallies for several months outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, as well as in Tel Aviv and other areas, calling on the premier to resign due to his indictment on corruption charges.

The protests on Saturday nights tend to be the largest and have been the scene of clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

They have been joined by people protesting the government’s economic policies during the coronavirus pandemic, with crowds in the thousands and rising.

Anat Peled contributed to this report.

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