Tens of thousands of citizens of Israel participated in protests at hundreds of locations across the country on Saturday night, October 10, against far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the extension of anti-democratic “special emergency” rules. Over 1,000 socially distanced gatherings were held throughout the country, the fourth such event since the government instituted a ban on mass protests as part of the national coronavirus lockdown. The “Black Flag” movement, one of the groups leading the demonstrations, said it believed over 200,000 were participated the Saturday night rallies. “This is Balfour, too,” cried protesters, arguing that their lack of proximity to Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem doesn’t make a difference to the movement.
After months of protests calling for Netanyahu to resign over his corruption indictments and handling of the pandemic, rallies on Saturday evening have drawn the largest crowds. Since the restriction was approved last month, tens of thousands of Israelis have staged protests on street corners and public squares near their homes.
Clashes were reported in Tel Aviv between demonstrators and police as authorities tried to stop activists marching through the streets. Police said they had detained eight protesters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Thousands of demonstrators gathered at both Tel Aviv’s Habima Square and Rabin Square. Thousands of young demonstrators, among them Hadash, Communist Party of Israel and young Communist activists spread out during six hours out onto neighboring streets, clutching signs saying “Let us go,” “Bibi, you’re destroying my future,” and “Go!”. For hours, the protesters blocked major streets one after another— Dizengoff, Ben Yehuda, Ibn Gabirol — with various marches snaking in and out of one another’s path.
On Saturday afternoon police prevented a protest cycling convoy of some 130 riders from approaching Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea. The cyclists carried Israeli and black flags as part of the Black Flag movement against the premier. Several were issued fines by officers for “breaking lockdown restrictions.”
In Jerusalem it was reported that a right-wing activist threw a large rock at a vigil and forcibly pulled the flag out of the hand of one of the protesters. Demonstrators claimed that when they approached a police officer for help, the officer refused to intervene, but instead checked their identification to make sure that they were within a kilometer of their homes, as dictated by the current restrictions. According to Haaretz, four months into the mass demonstrations against Netanyahu, only one person has been indicted for attacking protesters despite the dozens of fascist assaults, some of them videoed.
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