Thousands of anti-Netanyahu demonstrators took to the streets for weekly Thursday night protests, with organizers saying that activists had set up at 1,000 intersections and bridges around the country.
It was the third day of protests this week calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the corruption charges against him and for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the second day of demonstrations since the end of the government’s emergency restrictions barring protesters from gathering further than one kilometer from their homes and in groups larger than 20.
Organizers told Channel 12 that they were planning for “hundreds of thousands” of people to join demonstrations on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.
The two cities were also home to the largest protests on Thursday evening.
In Tel Aviv, hundreds of activists broke through a fenced-off area designated for them by police at Habima Square and began marching down Ibn Gabirol Street after officers blocked them from proceeding down Shaul Hamelech Street.
המחאה נגד ראש הממשלה | מאות מפגינים יצאו מכיכר הבימה בתל אביב לצעדה ברחבי העיר. שוטרים חסמו את היציאה לשדרות שאול המלך והמפגינים המשיכו לצעוד על רחוב אבן גבירול@daniel_elazar pic.twitter.com/rBPnI5yoht
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) October 15, 2020
In the nearby city of Holon, a number of anti-Netanyahu demonstrators were sprayed with “some kind of gas” by opponents who showed up to confront them, police said in a statement. Media reports indicated the substance was tear gas.
None of the demonstrators needed medical treatment, police said, adding that they had detained two suspects in the attack.
A Haaretz photographer tweeted a picture of far-right activists at the Holon counter-demonstration, some of whom were holding a sign that read “A good leftist is a dead leftist.”
להפגנה בחולון הגיעו כמה עשרות פעילים ( ככל הנראה לה פמיליה)
זה אחד השלטים שאחזו pic.twitter.com/SnLlUV2si6
— Tomer Appelbaum (@tomerappelbaum) October 15, 2020
A video posted to Twitter by Channel 12 showed that same Haaretz photographer, Tomer Appelbaum, being attacked by far-right activists shortly thereafter.
This came a day after another reporter from the left-wing-leaning paper was assaulted verbally, and the electricity in the newspaper’s office disrupted by an attacker.
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) October 15, 2020
Earlier Thursday, a resident of Pardes Hannah was arrested for allegedly attacking protesters with a fire extinguisher two weeks ago during an anti-Netanyahu demonstration at a traffic circle in the northern city.
According to a police statement, an investigation began after videos circulated on the internet showing a car driving past protesters gathered at the Meged traffic circle and spraying them with a fire extinguisher.
After investigating the incident, officers arrested the 31-year-old man and took him in for questioning, police said in a statement, noting that they had yet to decide whether to request an extension of his remand.
On Tuesday police arrested four far-right activists for harassing protesters demonstrating against Netanyahu, after video footage showed one of them attacking the demonstrators with pepper spray.
האלימות ממשיכה: המשטרה עצרה ארבעה פעילי ליכוד / ימין לאחר שהפרו את הסדר הציבורי מול מפגינים נגד נתניהו בחולון. לפחות שניים מהם ריססו גז פלפל לעבר מפגינים ברחבת המדיטק בחולון @ynetalerts pic.twitter.com/jK7bXRT0SW
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 13, 2020
Separately, anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem were hit with vegetables hurled by passersby, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.
Protests in recent months have seen dozens of reported attacks on anti-Netanyahu demonstrators, including by one Sderot resident accused of assaulting a protester with a sharp object.
Another serious incident occurred in July, when several suspected far-right activists attacked protesters as they took part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv. The attackers were seen hitting demonstrators with glass bottles, clubs and chairs and spraying them with mace. Some 10 people were hospitalized, including two with stab wounds in their backs.
There have also been two suspected incidents of cars trying to ram protesters.
Thousands of Israelis participated in weekly demonstrations outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem for months this summer, calling on the longtime prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption.
Since new restrictions on protesting were approved last month, tens of thousands of Israelis have staged protests on street corners and public squares near their homes against Netanyahu and against the government’s perceived mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout. Those restrictions were lifted Wednesday.