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Anti-vaccination protesters scuffle with police outside PM’s home, 5 arrested

Demonstrators angry after Bennett says anti-vaxxers are endangering the whole country and government prepares to end free testing for unvaccinated to enter public events

Protesters arguing with police outside the home of Naftali Bennett in Ra'anana on July 23, 2021. (screen capture: Twitter)
Protesters arguing with police outside the home of Naftali Bennett in Ra'anana on July 23, 2021. (screen capture: Twitter)

Anti-vaccination activists held an unruly protest outside the private home of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Friday, a day after the premier accused those refusing COVID shots of endangering the entire nation.

Dozens of protesters blocked the road and chanted slogans against Bennett, eventually managing to reach the edge of the protected zone around the prime minister’s Ra’anana home, police said.

Five people were arrested for disturbing the peace and refusing police orders as officers attempted to disperse the crowd.

Video from the protest showed minor scuffles between protesters and police officers.

“The protesters made it up to the entrance of the guarded area of the home and were so close that the Shin Bet refused to allow the protest to continue,” a police official told Haaretz.

On Thursday, Bennett issued a fresh appeal for all Israelis to get the coronavirus vaccine, accusing those eligible to get vaccinated who have not done so of endangering the rest of the country.

“One million Israelis are refusing to get vaccinated,” Bennett said. “They are endangering the entire population, they are endangering the other 8 million citizens in the country.”

He warned that the vaccine holdouts could cause the government to impose a fourth national lockdown since the pandemic began.

In his remarks, Bennett noted the high-level coronavirus cabinet’s decision on Thursday to start requiring the unvaccinated to pay out of pocket for COVID tests, linking it to the government’s push to increase immunization rates.

“There is no reason that taxpayers and those who fulfill their civic duty to get vaccinated will fund tests for those who refuse to get vaccinated,” he said.

According to new Health Ministry figures released Friday, 1,281 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, with a further 767 cases since midnight, bringing active infections to 10,166.

The number of patients in serious condition rose further to 81, and the death toll remained at 6,457.

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