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Thousands protest PM in Jerusalem, determined to take rallies into new year

Weekly demonstrations held outside Netanyahu’s residence and across nation; car drives into protesters, nearly hitting them; 11 arrested in earlier scuffles with police

Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside of his official residence in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside of his official residence in Jerusalem, on January 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Thousands of people demonstrated outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Jerusalem residence Saturday night, in the latest weekend protests demanding the premier’s resignation over his corruption trial — and the first since Israel entered its thrid national lockdown.

Unlike the previous closure, no restrictions have been placed on protests.

Protesters in Jerusalem marched from the city’s main entrance to the residence on Balfour Street. Numerous streets near the residence were temporarily blocked off due to the rally.

At one point, as they marched through a tunnel, a car drove into the demonstrators and nearly hit several of them, a video from the incident showed.

Several hundreds protested outside Netanyahu’s private residence in the coastal town of Caesarea.

Protests were also held, as they are every Saturday evening, at intersections, squares and highway overpasses throughout the country.

It was the 28th week of the rallies against Netanyahu, which have seen a drop in attendance as winter has moved in.

Crime Minister, one of the main protest groups, said in a statement: “At the start of the new year we are determined to continue the demonstration that brought down the failed government of the accused and will bring his downfall in the elections.”

Netanyahu’s unity government with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White collapsed in late December as the sides failed to agree on a state budget, and elections have been scheduled for March 23.

Earlier in the day, police arrested 11 anti-Netanyahu demonstrators outside the official Jerusalem residence, after dozens rallied at one of its gates and clashed with cops.

Weekly protests against Netanyahu have held firm for over six months, with protesters 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.

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