Thousands took to the street around the country Thursday — not as part of New Year celebrations, but as part of ongoing weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hundreds of protesters rallied in the northern town of Binyamina, while dozens of Netanyahu supporters held a counterprotest across from the demonstration at the Binyamina train station.
Protesters on both sides scuffled with police, according to Hebrew-language media reports, and an anti-Netanyahu protester was arrested on suspicion of assaulting officers.
Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzano and Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar attended the protest to show support for the anti-Netanyahu demonstrators.
“We’ll remove him from Balfour [Street] and return the country to sanity,” Avidar said, referring to Balfour Street in Jerusalem, where the Prime Minister’s residence is located, a regular site of anti-Netanyahu protests during the current demonstration movement.
ועכשיו הבלגן בצד של מתנגדי נתניהו
הם סיימו את ההפגנה והתכוונו לצאת לתהלוכה על המדרכה.
כרגע (לא ברור מדוע) כפי שנראה שוטרים קפצו על צוללת.
"הרמתי את הצוללת. השוטרים קפצו עלי סתם. אפילו לא הייתי על הכביש", אמר לי אחד מנושאי הצוללת.
כרגע הצעדה ממשיכה כרגיל עם הצוללות pic.twitter.com/5G5woIktcy
— Noa Shpigel (@NoaShpigel) December 31, 2020
Another group of protesters demonstrated at Habima Square in Tel Aviv. Some of them marched to the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party. The demonstrators carried an inflatable submarine, in reference to a massive corruption scandal involving the purchase of naval vessels that has ensnared several of Netanyahu’s associates, but not the premier himself.
Later, about 2,000 protesters briefly blocked a major Tel Aviv intersection next to the city’s Azrieli Center.
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) December 31, 2020
Weekly protests against Netanyahu have held firm for over six months, with protesters demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. They have also criticized his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and claims the indictments are part of an effort by political rivals, the media, police and prosecutors to remove him from office.
Netanyahu is also now battling for reelection, after the Knesset dissolved last week, with the fourth elections in two years set for March 23.