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Jerusalem man arrested for pulling knife on anti-Netanyahu protesters

Suspect, 23, sent to house arrest following incident at rally in Rishon Lezion

Illustrative: Police scuffle with anti-Netanyahu protesters block the light rail tracks on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, October 17, 2020. ( Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Police scuffle with anti-Netanyahu protesters block the light rail tracks on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, October 17, 2020. ( Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Police have arrested a 23-year-old Jerusalem resident who was filmed holding up a knife and threatening people who were demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the central city of Rishon Lezion.

Police said he was taken in for questioning on Sunday and eventually sent to house arrest.

Demonstrators have been holding regular protests against Netanyahu for six months, demanding he resign because he is trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as because of his 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.

The protests have been punctuated by occasional acts of violence by far-right supporters of Netanyahu.

Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on December 26, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In late October, a homeless man in Haifa with a reported history of mental health problems was sentenced to eight months in prison for hurling rocks at anti-Netanyahu protesters in the northern city, the first person to be sentenced for attacking Israelis demonstrating against the premier.

Since then, at least five others have been charged.

The assaults on the anti-Netanyahu protesters have been reported in Hod Hasharon, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Holon, and elsewhere.

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.

The largest weekly demonstrations are held on Saturday evenings in Jerusalem across from the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street. Saturday night’s latest protests took place in the shadow of approaching elections. The Knesset dissolved on Tuesday after weeks of wrangling between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, triggering the fourth election in two years on March 23.

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