Anti-Netanyahu protesters rallied across Israel on Saturday evening, the 34th week of mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his indictment on graft charges and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The main demonstrations were held outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and Netanyahu’s private home in the coastal city of Caesaria. Several hundred demonstrators gathered in each of the locations. Smaller protests took place at highway overpasses and junctions around the country.
A number of violent incidents were reported.
Near Kiryat Ono outside Tel Aviv, police said a woman threatened demonstrators with a plastic gun. Protester Avi Shmueli told Channel 12 News: “She pointed it at us and people started panicking.”
The woman fled in a vehicle which was later stopped by cops. The woman and another suspect were arrested.
— Or-ly Barlev ~ אור-לי ברלב (@orlybarlev) February 13, 2021
In Rishon Letzion, protestors reported a man assaulted them and tore down signs.
“This is the first time there has been physical violence at our junction,” Rosie Keidar, one of the demonstrators, told Haaretz.
בקרית אונו מפגינים טוענים שאשה יצאה מרכבה ואיימה עם מה שנראה כמו אקדח ובראשון לציון המשטרה עצרה אדם שתקף מפגינים נגד נתניהו בכיכר רבין בעיר. ״הוא התנפל על אחד מהפעילים שלנו קפץ עליו הרביץ לו שבר לו את הדגל והזמבורה ואחרי זה הרביץ לפעיל נוסף״ אמרה רוזי, זה תיעוד חלק מהאירוע ???????? pic.twitter.com/ajjkVv62V3
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) February 13, 2021
Police told the paper that one suspect was detained for the act.
The Black Flags protest group also said that rocks were thrown toward demonstrators in Netanya, as well as at a vehicle near Daburiyya in northern Israel, causing property damage.
וזה לא הכל: בדבוריה נפצו שמשות של רכבי מפגינים ובנתניה יידו עליהם אבנים. (בתמונה: אחד הרכבים שנפגעו בדבוריה) pic.twitter.com/QmxtZGdJvT
— אור רביד | Or Ravid (@OrRavid) February 13, 2021
“This will end in murder,” opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted Saturday night in response to the violence.
“The incitement comes from Balfour,” he said, referencing the Jerusalem street on which the Prime Minister’s Residence is located. “The violent spirit and hatred is dangerous and destructive.
“I call on the prime minister: Stop the incitement. Your activists have lost their way.”
Demonstrators have been holding regular protests for months against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
They have also criticized his government’s 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.
Israel is preparing to hold new elections on March 23.