Hundreds of Israelis massed in pouring rain outside the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Many demonstrators carried placards, including “Putin is the new Hitler” and “Stop Putin, stop war.”
Sheltered under giant Ukrainian flags and exposed to the elements alike, the protesters shouted slogans in Russian, Ukrainian and Hebrew that were directed at Putin and recalled past Ukrainian struggles for independence.
“Putin is a son of a bitch” and “no war” alternated between the crowd and passing cars, as drivers stopped to honk and shout their support.
“Honor to the heroes, honor to Ukraine,” they chanted as lightning ripped through the air.
Police said officers arrested four people who allegedly were involved in spraying graffiti on the outer wall of the embassy during the protest.
“The police will enable freedom of speech and freedom of protest, but will not allow violations of the law and of the public order,” the local police department said in a statement.
A similar protest was also held outside the Russian consulate in Haifa. Some demonstrators climbed the building’s gate and threw tomatoes at it, the Walla news site reported.
According to Channel 13 news, many of the demonstrators have Ukrainian roots and even family in the country.
Alongside their expressions of anger at the Russian campaign, the protesters were also venting their disappointment over Israel’s cautious response.
Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett avoided condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine — or even mentioning Russia by name — in his first remarks since the incursion began.
“The world order as we know it is changing,” he said, speaking at an IDF officer graduation ceremony in southern Israel. “The world is much less stable, and our region too is changing every day.”
“These are difficult, tragic times,” said the prime minister. “Our hearts are with the civilians of eastern Ukraine who were caught up in this situation.”
The remarks were a stark contrast from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s condemnation of Russia, who only hours before called the invasion “a grave violation of the international order,” in Jerusalem’s harshest and most direct condemnation of Moscow since the crisis in Eastern Europe began.
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.