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Protest near PM’s Jerusalem residence ends after police forcibly disperse crowd

Cops wait well after midnight before removing hundreds blocking road, without using water cannons; 8 arrested; earlier, over 10,000 demonstrated against Netanyahu in capital

Police forces move to disperse a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Jerusalem's Paris Square, August 2, 2020. (Anat Peled/Times of Israel)
Police forces move to disperse a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Jerusalem's Paris Square, August 2, 2020. (Anat Peled/Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they unfolded.

France starts testing travelers from 16 nations for virus

Travelers entering France from 16 countries where the coronavirus is circulating widely are having to undergo virus tests upon arrival at French airports and ports.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last month that the tests would be required starting Aug. 1 for the arriving passengers France is allowing in from the listed countries, unless they present proof of a negative test done within 72 hours of their departure.

Those who test positive in France as of today must quarantine for 14 days.

France is not permitting general travel to and from the 16 countries, which include the United States and Brazil. The testing requirement therefore only applies to people entering under limited circumstances – “French citizens who live in these countries or citizens of these countries with an established residence in France,” Castex has said.

Daniel Court was tested at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport after coming in from the French Riviera city of Nice. He acknowledged not loving the experience.

“It’s very fast, but I have to say that it’s not very pleasant. It is surprising. But we have to do it,” Court said.

Another passenger who got tested after landing at Paris’ main airport, Nadia Vusik of Belarus, said she thought the new policy made sense.

“It is definitely necessary, and I am happy that in France it is possible to do right here. It’s very convenient.”

Health authorities have said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped on the French mainland in recent weeks. The government previously made mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces.

The French government has so far ruled out imposing another nationwide lockdown after the one that brought the country to a standstill for nearly two months between March and May.

— AP

70,000 Israelis visit national parks over weekend

The Nature and Parks Authority says that some 70,000 Israelis visited the national parks over the weekend along with 6,800 people who spent the night at authorized camping grounds.

Popular sites included Tel Aphek National Park in central Israel, which attracted some 2,500 hikers, and Caesarea National Park, the Golan Heights Banias and Ein Gedi, which each attracted 2,000 visitors.

Anti-PM protest organizers lament decision to coordinate Jerusalem march with police

The Black Flags, one of the three main groups demonstrating against Netanyahu, signed a permit which would allow protesters to march through the city center at 10:00 p.m.

Some protest organizers disagree with the decision to conduct a march in coordination with Jerusalem police.

“I opposed the permit because I see it as a trap,” says protest organizer Gonen Ben Yitzhak, who believes that police would use any violations of the permit to shut down the protest.

“In my opinion, the protest is simply legal. There’s no reason for us to go to the police [so that they] permit a legal protest,” Ben Yitzhak tells The Times of Israel.

Protester organizers said that they had heard from many concerned for their safety at Saturday night’s protest following several reports of far-right attacks on anti-Netanyahu demonstrators across the country.

One organizer, Avi Ofer, says that some demonstrators were organizing self-defense units formed of graduates of IDF combat units to respond in the event that far-right extremists assaulted anti-Netanyahu protesters.

“People are scared. I’ve spent all day speaking to people, calming them down. But I think in the end they’ll come,” Ben Yitzhak says.

“There’s a palpable fear that’s spreading among us about what could happen. Especially on side streets when we leave the protest where there’s no police presence,” says Mor Elyakim, another protest organizer, referring to demonstrators reportedly attacked by far-right extremists in Jerusalem after leaving the Balfour demonstrations.

— Aaron Boxerman

3 arrested for spraying water at anti-PM activists ahead of mass Jerusalem rally

Police say they arrest three suspects who sprayed water at of a group of “Black Flag” anti-Netanyahu activists protesting at a junction in southern Israel.

According to police, the suspects, 3 residents of Beesheba in their 20s, pulled up in their vehicle at the She’ar Hanegev Junction on Route 34 and splashed the anti-Netanyahu protesters.

Police did not immediately respond to a query regarding what was deemed illegal regarding the suspects’ conduct.

Anti-Netanyahu activists say they’ve posted up in the thousands at junctions across country, waving black flags

Organizers of the anti-Netanyahu “Black Flag” movement say that thousands of their activists have posted up at some 300 junctions throughout the country.

The mini-rallies are a precursor to a mass rally outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home that is expected to attract thousands later tonight.

WATCH: Drunk teens toss plastic chairs at each other in southern Israel mass melee

Dozens of teens broke out into a brawl at a public pool in the Merhavim Regional Council which was caught on film.

The rioters hurled plastic “Keter” chairs at one another and one of them reportedly stabbed a 16-year-old girl who was evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in moderate condition. Two other boys were also hospitalized after suffering light injuries, Magen David Adom says.

Police: Suspect nabbed after ‘infiltrating’ anti-PM protest, spitting and cursing at activists

Police say they’ve arrested a young man in his 20s at the Ashkelon Junction after he “infiltrated” a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters and began spitting, yelling and cursing at them.

The young man is the fourth person arrested for accosting anti-PM protesters after three others were nabbed earlier, after splashing the activists with water at another southern Israel junction.

WHO coronavirus review anticipates ‘lengthy’ pandemic

The Word Health Organization’s Emergency Committee passes a resolution “anticipat[ing] the lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”

1,193 new coronavirus cases, 11 deaths recorded over Shabbat

New Health Ministry figures show 1,193 coronavirus cases were recorded over Shabbat, bringing the number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 72,163.

The death toll jumps to 523 as the ministry reports 11 more fatalities from COVID-19.

Of the 26,542, 328 people were in serious condition, with 95 on ventilators. Another 157 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

The ministry said 22,890 tests were performed yesterday.

Hundreds rally against Netanyahu near his Caesarea home

Hundreds of people are protesting against Prime Minister Netanyahu near his private home in the coastal city of Caesarea.

Thousands of anti-Netanyahu protesters now outside PM’s residence

Thousands of Israelis are now protesting outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Demonstrators are set to hold a march through the city center later this evening.

At Jerusalem rally, demonstrator attacked in Tel Aviv says ‘we need to continue to protest’

A protester who was attacked by suspected far-right activists during a demonstration earlier this week in Tel Aviv implores demonstrators to keep protesting.

Speaking with Channel 12 news during a protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem, Shay Sekler acknowledges concerns about attending the rally, but says “we need to continue to protest.”

Jerusalem rally apparently the largest since protests began

In what appear to the largest demonstrations since the beginning of the anti-Netanyahu protest wave, thousands of demonstrators have filled Paris Square.

Protesters are packed, in some places shoulder to shoulder, entirely filling the areas barricaded off by the police for the protest.

Dozens of protesters continue to stream in from side streets.

— Aaron Boxerman

300 protesters gather at Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park

Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered at Charles Clore Park in Tel Aviv as part of a series of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hebrew-language media reports the number of protesters in Tel Aviv to be around 300.

Likud minister blasts protests as ‘campaign of incitement’ against Netanyahu

Transportation Minister Miri Regev speaks during a ceremony at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem on May 18 2020. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud’s Transportation Minister Miri Regev tells Channel 12’s “Meet the Press” that the anti-Netanyahu protests are “a campaign of incitement against the prime minister and the right.

“It is a campaign of incitement by the left, funded by the New Israel Fund,” she alleges.

IDF probing soldier who called for protesters to be shot

The Israel Defense Forces says it is probing a soldier who posted a social media message earlier this week calling for shooting participants of the anti-government rallies.

The serviceman is not a combat soldier and does not carry a firearm.

Police have filed a request to question the soldier, which has been referred to legal bodies.

Police chief arrives near Jerusalem rally, says thousands of cops deployed nationwide

Acting Police Commissioner Motti Cohen arrives near the mass rally outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem to follow the force’s preparation, as the rally appears to be the biggest yet in several weeks of protests.

According to a statement by the Israel Police, Cohen says thousands of cops are deployed nationwide to guarantee protesters’ safety, but adds there will be no tolerance for violence against protesters or police officers.

Jerusalem protesters start marching toward city center

Protesters at tonight’s anti-Netanyahu rally in Paris Square in Jerusalem have begun marching towards the city center.

Shai Sharfberg, a 31-year-old archaeology student, decided to join the protests recently, he says. He says he just wants Netanyahu to act like other prime ministers under suspicion of corruption.

“Yitzhak Rabin resigned. Bibi called for Olmert to resign. He should do the same,” Sharfberg says, adding that he thinks Netanyahu seems too busy dealing with his criminal cases to run the country.

— Aaron Boxerman

Minister Rafi Peretz tests positive for coronavirus; 3 lawmakers quarantined

Jerusalem Minister Rafi Peretz says he has tested positive for the coronavirus, Israel’s second minister to be diagnosed after Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who was health minister at the time.

“As Shabbat ended, unfortunately it became clear that I tested positive in a test conducted on Friday. I currently feel well and wish all of Israel’s sick a speedy recovery,” Peretz writes in a statement.

Rafi Peretz, then-leader of the Jewish Home party, in Petah Tikva, February 20, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Peretz has been in quarantine since Thursday, when his ministry’s director-general Avi Cohen tested positive.

Additionally, three lawmakers from the ruling Likud party have entered self-isolation after meeting a party activist who has since tested positive.

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, MKs Avi Dichter and Osnat Mark and at least three advisers have been quarantined.

Over 10,000 people reported to attend Jerusalem protest

Hebrew-language media reports that over 10,000 people are attending the anti-government rally in Jerusalem.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a Netanyahu ally whose ministry oversees police, has denied reports that he previously asked police to use water canons, clubs or stun grenades against protesters.

“I don’t deal with the ‘how,'” he writes on Facebook. “That is an operational consideration. Only equal police treatment for all population groups will guarantee a police that isn’t political.”

Cops fine COVID-19 patient who partied at Eilat hotel for 3 days

A confirmed coronavirus carrier was at a hotel in the southern city of Eilat for three days, police say.

As soon as police were notified, cops in protective gear came to his room at Club Hotel Eilat and ordered him and his family members to leave and return to quarantine, according to a statement by police.

They handed him a NIS 5,000 ($1,470) fine, the statement says.

Thousands reported also outside Netanyahu’s Caesarea residence

Reports say at least 2,000 people are attending an anti-Netanyahu protest outside the premier’s personal residence in Caesarea, in addition to at least 10,000 demonstrators flooding Jerusalem’s city center.

Thousands of Jerusalem protesters spread throughout city center

Thousands of protesters at tonight’s Jerusalem rally calling for the resignation of Benjamin Netanyahu are extended all along Jerusalem’s Keren Hayesod-King George Street, with many demonstrators still in Paris Square.

While at previous rallies demonstrators have been contained within a small area around Paris Square, tonight they own Jerusalem’s downtown. Protesters march in clusters far past police barricades, waving signs and Israeli flags.

A few buses and a water cannon lie at the edge of the demarcated area by Ben Yehuda Street. A large crowd has gathered around, chanting slogans about Netanyahu’s alleged corruption.

— Aaron Boxerman

Police’s Jerusalem commander quarantined after minister catches virus

Deputy Commissioner Doron Yadid attends a ceremony marking the Jewish new year at Israel Police headquarters in Jerusalem on September 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel Police’s Jerusalem district commander, Doron Yadid, will enter quarantine since he met over the past week with Jerusalem Minister Rafi Peretz, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, police say.

Yadid’s deputy, Eli Kazari, will replace him during the 14-day isolation period.

Dozens start marching through Tel Aviv streets; police urge them to follow orders

Dozens of anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel Aviv have left Charles Clore Park and started marching through the streets, police say, adding that the march wasn’t coordinated with authorities.

Still, officers are accompanying and securing the march, police say in a statement.

“The police expects those participating in the march to follow police orders and avoid disrupting public order, as well as to stick to the Health Ministry emergency regulations” designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the statement says.

Coalition whip backs ‘override clause’ bill, setting up potential coalition crisis

As if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unity government with Defense Minister Benny Gantz isn’t shaky enough as is, a new proposed law is threatening to deepen the rift between the Likud and Blue and White parties.

MK Ayelet Shaked, a former justice minister from the opposition right-wing Yamina party, has said she will push ahead with a Knesset vote on a law bill that would enable the parliament to overrule High Court decisions with certain conditions, even though the coalition has said it will oppose it.

The bill, known as the “override clause,” has previously been championed by Likud and Netanyahu, but is bitterly opposed by Gantz’s Blue and White, who view it as an attempt to harm a key check on the Knesset’s power.

Likud faction chair MK Miki Zohar at a debate of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, January 13, 2020. (Knesset)

But the coalition whip, Miki Zohar, a Netanyahu loyalist from Likud, says he will recommend that the premier support the bill which is set to go up for a vote next week.

“We cannot go against our voters,” Zohar tweets.

Likud Minister David Amsalem and Blue and White’s Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn have previously agreed to only pass legislation that has to do with the coronavirus crisis.

100 right-wing protesters rally outside Chief Justice Hayut’s Tel Aviv home

As thousands of anti-Netanyahu protesters rally in various cities, about a hundred right-wing protesters have gathered outside Chief Justice Esther Hayut’s home in the Tzahala neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

They are protesting the Supreme Court’s treatment of residents of south Tel Aviv who regularly complain about alleged crime by African asylum seekers in their neighborhoods.

They use megaphones and stay after 11 p.m., in an attempt to draw a parallel with the anti-government protests, which police have stopped dispersing at 11 p.m. despite noise complaints from residents.

Protest organizers call on authorities to let rally continue all night

The Black Flag organization behind the anti-government protests have called on authorities to enable the demonstrations in Jerusalem to continue throughout the night, Hebrew-language media reports.

“We are in an unprecedented event,” the group says in a statement. “The tens of thousands who flooded the capital tonight are not willing to accept the situation where a criminal defendant is crushing the dream upon which this country was established.

“Hundreds of thousands of unemployed, a whole generation crushed because the defendant is dealing with his own trial,” it adds. “We will return week after week, until the corrupt [leader] resigns.”

Jerusalem protester: ‘Each person who comes inspires more people to show up’

Thousands of protesters remain at Jerusalem’s Paris Square as the largest anti-Netanyahu protest in the capital continues.

Maya Glasser, 28, tells The Times of Israel that she believes Netanyahu is neglecting his duties as prime minister in the middle of the coronavirus crisis to deal with the cases pending against him.

“I’m left-wing, but at this point I don’t even care. It could even be [Yamina party leader Naftali] Bennett — we need someone, anyone who will try to lead the country,” Glasser says.

Glasser says she is optimistic about the future of the protest movement after tonight’s turnout.

“Each person who comes inspires more people to show up,” she says.

— Aaron Boxerman

Thousands stay at Paris Square, some vow to keep attending future rallies

Thousands remain Jerusalem’s Paris Square, although some demonstrators have begun to trickle out.

Matan Cohen, a student at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, says he decided to attend the protests for the first time this week with a group of fellow students. Cohen says the government’s coronavirus response has been “shameful.”

“If this is enough for me to come all the way from Beersheba, clearly things are bad, because I’m neither very active nor very political,” Cohen says.

Cohen says he has little hope for the protests’ success. But he says he will continue to come up from Beersheba “next Saturday and the Saturday after that.”

— Aaron Boxerman

Blue and White warns government will fall if Likud backs ‘override clause’ bill

Hebrew-language media cites unnamed senior members of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party saying that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud supports an opposition bill letting the Knesset overrule High Court decisions, that will be the end of the unity government.

“We won’t allow anti-democratic legislation,” the source says. “That’s what we promised the Israeli public and that’s what we’ll do to safeguard the State of Israel. That’s what we agreed when we created the unity government.

“We will live up to signed agreements, and we expect our partners to also live up to them.”

Police start making arrests at Jerusalem protest

As midnight passes and thousands are still in and around Jerusalem’s Paris Square, making no effort to keep quiet and adhere to noise-prevention regulations, police start making arrests.

At least one protester has been arrested, according to reports from the scene, and more arrests are expected unless authorities let the rally continue all night, which is unlikely to happen.

IDF report predicts mass production of COVID-19 vaccine will begin by year’s end

A document by the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate reportedly estimates mass production of a coronavirus vaccine will begin by the end of 2020.

The report was sent Friday to government ministers and decision-makers, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

The report says companies are investing unprecedented resources and are willing to “take substantial financial risks by expediting production before the development is completed.”

That’s why the writers predict that at least one of the companies currently making progress will move by the end of the year to start mass production.

Tel Aviv march ends at Rabin Square; in Jerusalem, protesters block roads

Police say a march in Tel Aviv of anti-Netanyahu protesters from Charles Clore Park to Rabin Square has concluded, with participants dispersing and leaving.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, thousands of protesters remain and some are blocking roads.

At least 3 ministers quarantined after Rafi Peretz contracts COVID-19

Several ministers have been ordered to quarantine after Jerusalem Minister Rafi Peretz tested positive for the coronavirus.

Among the ministers who met Peretz in last Sunday’s cabinet meeting and who will enter isolation for a week are ministers Ze’ev Elkin, Orly Levy-Abekasis and Ya’akov Avitan.

‘Protest is over, vacate the road,’ police tell Jerusalem demonstrators

For the first time tonight, police are calling on protesters at Jerusalem’s Paris Square to disperse via loudspeakers installed recently for this purpose.

“The protest is over, you must vacate the road,” police say, as an estimated 2,000 people remain well after midnight.

Police don’t declare Jerusalem rally illegal yet; hundreds remain

Despite calling on protesters to disperse, police do not seem to have declared the Jerusalem demonstration illegal yet, which would precede dispersal by force.

Hundreds remain at Paris Square, the vast majority on Ramban Street facing a police barricade.

Omer, a middle-aged protester from central Israel, says he decided to come to the protests for the first time.

“I’m very politically quiet, you know, middle class. But with the way things are, even I have to take part,” he says.

— Aaron Boxerman

Police start arresting Jerusalem protesters, seize megaphones

Police are moving in to make more arrests in the Jerusalem anti-government protest after hundreds refuse to disperse.

Cops are also confiscating megaphones, drums and other loud devices to keep the noise level down.

Hundreds keep blocking road outside Netanyahu residence despite police warning

Hundreds are still outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, blocking the road despite police warning them and starting making arrests.

Remaining Jerusalem protesters unimpressed by police calls to disperse

Hundreds remain at Jerusalem’s Paris Square for a demonstration calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation as police call again for the demonstration to disperse so authorities can reopen the street.

Protesters chant “Bibi, resign, the country is more important than you.”

Demonstrators boo and hiss, drowning out police calls to disperse.

— Aaron Boxerman

Prominent anti-migrant activist detained at Tel Aviv rally

Prominent anti-migrant activist Sheffi Paz has been detained by police officers as dozens of right-wingers continue their protest outside Chief Justice Esther Hayut’s Tel Aviv home.

Demonstrators are protesting the High Court’s treatment of residents of southern Tel Aviv complaining about alleged crime by African asylum seekers in their neighborhoods.

Paz scrawls slogans on the road, causing cops to whisk her away.

Another activist, Doron Avrahami, is also taken away by cops.

Officers also confiscate megaphones which police say were causing “unreasonable noise.”

Protesters refuse to budge, but police don’t move to disperse them

In an unusual display of restraint, police have still not begun dispersing protesters at Jerusalem’s Paris Square by force.

Hundreds of protesters are still sitting in the middle of the square, drowning police attempts to announce that the protest is over with chants of “We won’t give up until Bibi quits.”

Police are opening the street for traffic, but only a few protesters appear to be leaving the scene.

— Aaron Boxerman

Police start dispersing remaining Jerusalem protesters

Now police have begun clearing Jerusalem’s Paris Square, with ranks of Yasam riot police officers pushing the remaining demonstrators down Agron Street.

Police use force, drag protesters away from Paris Square

Dispersal by force has begun, with dozens of police dragging protesters sitting in the middle of the street to the the side.

In one case, police wrapped their legs around a demonstrator’s neck to subdue them while in the process of detaining them. The Times of Israel did not see any provocation on the protesters’ part besides their refusal to leave.

Protesters chant “scum” at police during the dispersal.

— Aaron Boxerman

No water cannons, but scenes of chaos as police drag protesters away

Footage from Jerusalem’s Paris Square shows many riot police officers dragging away protesters blocking the road.

Demonstrators chant slogans at the cops as the scene seems to be deteriorating into chaos and violence.

Notably, the dispersal is being done manually, without water cannons, after police were criticized for its use of water cannons in previous rallies.

Jerusalem’s Paris Square cleared of protesters

Paris Square has been cleared of the remaining anti-Netanyahu demonstrators, without use of water cannons this time.

Police forces are accompanying the protesters away down Agron Street.

Police make 8 arrests in Jerusalem; Paris Square reopens

Police say they made eight arrests while dispersing the crowd that was blocking the road outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

The arrested individuals are suspected of disrupting public order, police say in a statement.

Paris Square is now open to traffic.

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WATCH: Drunk teens toss plastic chairs at each other in southern Israel mass melee

Dozens of teens broke out into a brawl at a public pool in the Merhavim Regional Council which was caught on film.

The rioters hurled plastic “Keter” chairs at one another and one of them reportedly stabbed a 16-year-old girl who was evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in moderate condition. Two other boys were also hospitalized after suffering light injuries, Magen David Adom says.