Protests resumed in Jerusalem Saturday evening, October 17, after a two-week hiatus due to coronavirus restrictions, with 10,000 calling for far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, while many thousands more protested across Israel.
Despite the lifted restriction, the Black Flag protest group claimed in a statement that many protesters were being held up at police checkpoints outside of Jerusalem. Media reports put the crowd size at Paris Square at ten thousand, while organizers claimed at the end of the evening that some 260,000 people attended rallies throughout the country. Around midnight police forcibly dispersed several hundred protesters who remained in Jerusalem’s Paris Square. Authorities said nine people were arrested during the events.
Thousands of protesters also gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, while in parallel thousands marched from Habima Square around the city waving red flags and brandishing Hadash placards.
Violent attacks on protesters by fascist elements were reported around the country, with protesters in Haifa, Jerusalem, Kiryat Ata and Ramat Gan reported having been maced with pepper spray. Police arrested several suspects in the attacks. In Tel Aviv, a 12-year-old girl required medical attention after being pepper-sprayed in the face, while leaving a protest she had attended with her mother and brother. Two suspects aged 20 and 17 from Bat Yam were arrested, suspected of pepper-spraying protesters from a passing car on Yefet Street in Jaffa earlier in the evening. In Jerusalem, police reportedly detained a man who infiltrated into a group of protesters and threatened them, saying he had a knife. On Thursday, the fascistic La Familia gang sprayed a number of anti-Netanyahu demonstrators in Holon with tear gas. A Haaretz photographer tweeted a picture of far-right activists at the Holon counter-demonstration, some of whom were holding a sign that read, “A good leftist is a dead leftist.”
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the police have recently begun using a major crime unit, which normally works against organized crime, to investigate leaders of the protest against Netanyahu. ACRI has warned that the police may be creating a special database with personal information about protest leaders.
Related: Mass Anti-Netanyahu Rallies Set as Government Ends Curb on Protests