Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the official residence of far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Balfour Street in west Jerusalem, Thursday evening, July 16, calling on him to resign over the corruption charges which he is currently facing in court, just two days after some 50 persons were arrested there in a similar protest. Among Thursday’s protesters was former Brigadier General Amir Haskel, who told the crowd: “There’s no way that a criminal defendant will be Prime Minister of Israel,” referring to the three indictments for which Netanyahu is on trial.
The earlier protest this week took place on Tuesday evening, July 14, and ultimately turned violent as police and demonstrators clashed resulting in the arrest of dozens of the more than a thousand demonstrators. While Tuesday’s protest in Jerusalem was going on, several additional protests calling for the resignation of the indictment prime minister took place across the country.
Organizers had called on protesters to come prepared to spend all of Thursday night on the sidewalks of the neighborhood, but police warned them that the demonstration must end at 11 pm, and participants would not be allowed to camp out on the street. Nevertheless, the protesters managed to block traffic on the adjacent Gaza Street until 1 am.
Called by organizers, the “Siege of Balfour” the rally was also held to protest the far-right government’s plans to introduce weekend lockdowns and ban public gatherings as part of its campaign to halt the spread of the coronavirus. “Preventing public gatherings and applying a lockdown is only intended to free Netanyahu from the siege,” organizers said in a statement
On Sunday, July 12, the inspectors of the Jerusalem municipality and police brutally cleared away lean-tos, tents, and personal equipment protesters had brought to the site for an authorized rally a few weeks ago and which ultimately began to grow in size until the continually manned camp acquired the nature of a “permanent outpost,” according to the municipality, which was proving a disturbance to local residents and hotel guests and management.
The two Jerusalem demonstrations this week were part of the proliferating “Black Flag” anti-corruption protests against Netanyahu being held regularly around the country, with protesters calling for Netanyahu to resign.