Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned the racist harassment of a journalist covering a mass demonstration outside his Jerusalem residence.
“The shameful attack yesterday at the left-wing protests against the journalist Dr. Avishay Ben Haim, together with the violence there against police, is worthy of all condemnation,” tweeted Netanyahu. “Shame and disgrace.”
In footage that accompanied the tweet, a protester could be seen shouting into a megaphone at Channel 13’s Ben Haim.
“Go and lick Bibi’s ass. Go! Go and lick that Ashkenazi’s ass you Moroccan trash,” the demonstrator shouted.
In another widely shared clip from the demonstration a protester grabbed the right-wing journalist’s microphone and shouted at Ben Haim while he was in the middle of broadcasting.
בעת השידור אצלנו, אבישי בן חיים ויוסי אלי מותקפים על ידי מפגינים pic.twitter.com/IOhiuDjifN
— guy lerer (@guylerer) July 14, 2020
Several thousand people had gathered Tuesday evening and called on Netanyahu to quit over his indictment on corruption charges.
Some of the demonstrators attempted to break through security barriers at the scene and clashed with police. As the protest ended, hundreds moved downtown, where they blocked the light rail system, chanting “shame, shame” and “Bibi, go home.”
Police then turned water cannons on the demonstrators and mounted officers charged up and down the light rail tracks on Jaffa Street, sending protesters scattering to the sides before regrouping.
Police said one officer was lightly wounded and 50 protesters were arrested. All but two of those detained were freed by Wednesday afternoon.
ההתקפה המבישה אתמול בהפגנת השמאל על העיתונאי ד״ר אבישי בן חיים, יחד עם האלימות שהשתוללה שם נגד שוטרים, ראויה לכל גינוי. בושה וחרפה pic.twitter.com/Iell8QByjx
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 15, 2020
The Jerusalem demonstration was part of the ongoing “black flag” anti-corruption protests against Netanyahu.
Numerous such protests have been held in recent weeks and months, but Tuesday night’s was unprecedentedly large, with an unusually high participation of young people.
Tamir Hefetz, one of the organizers, stressed in a Wednesday Channel 12 interview that the organizers are firmly opposed to violence and confrontation.
Protesting what he said was the media’s obsession in the wake of the demonstration with “whether there was violence… whether an anarchist threw a chair,” however, he said the real issue was that “there is an entire generation of young people who are growing up to a dictatorial state, with no future, whose prime minister spends his day only seeking to evade justice… who passes anti-democratic laws, who harms the judicial system. These [young] people are crying out. I cry out with them… The protest is a protest to preserve democracy.”
Hefetz also said those responsible for initiating the violence were largely “provocateurs” who infiltrated the demonstration.