Thousands demonstrated throughout the country on Thursday evening, October 22, against the far-right government of criminally indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a series of protests directed at the social and economic crisis, police brutality and high-level corruption.
Large protests were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, while smaller rallies were held at hundreds of other locations. In Holon, far-right counter-protesters faced off with anti-government activists and heckled a member of the Knesset from the opposition.
Over 1,500 protesters marched in Haifa, among them chair of the Joint List MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), and over a dozen small protests took place at various intersections in Jerusalem. A large event that was scheduled to take place at Independence Park in Jerusalem was cancelled after the city denied organizers a permit, saying they did not receive clearance to hold the rally from the Health Ministry. Throughout the entire country demonstrations were held in streets, intersections and overpasses.
In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, several hundred self-employed and small business owners demonstrated against the government’s economic policies during the coronavirus pandemic. Several thousand also congregated in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square and marched through the city center to demonstrate against Prime Minister Netanyahu and police violence.
Protests against Netanyahu have been taking place for months, both over his criminal indictments and trial and his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Saturdays see the largest demonstrations, but rallies are regularly held on Thursdays and Fridays as well.
In Holon, a working-class suburb of Tel Aviv, dozens of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators confronted each other. The pro-Netanyahu protesters included the hooligans belonging to Jerusalem’s racist La Familia soccer fan club. Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razvozov arrived at the scene and attempted to calm tensions, but had insults hurled at him, including “You’re not a Jew, you Israel-hating trash,” “Go back to Russia.” The comments appeared to be slurs aimed at the fact that Razvozov immigrated to Israel from Russia. At one point, they were heard chanting “Kahane lives,” in reference to the now deceased fascist and racist rabbi Meir Kahane.
According to Channel 13 news, recordings and messages obtained by the network showed plans by far-right activists to attack demonstrators, including statements in one closed WhatsApp group threatening to ram and run over rally-goers with vehicles, as well as beat them. We’re going to run the leftists over big time,” one said. “We’ll mow down cats and mow down leftists… We’ll carry out a terror attack on them, a pogrom, their story is over.” “We’ll f**k them up and show them who’s boss,” another person wrote. “They scream at the police like bitches,” another wrote. The Black Flag protest movement said it had filed a complaint with police against right-wing activist Ran Karmi Buzaglo, who runs the group which made the threats.
More protests will be held this evening, Saturday, on Balfour Street, near the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem and in many hundreds of other locations throughout Israel.