Protester Killed by Car; 27 Detained as Thousands Rally in Jerusalem

Protesters against far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gathered in Jerusalem and at traffic junctions nationwide for the 24th week in a row on Saturday, December 5, ahead of a hearing this week connected to the prime minister’s corruption trial. The protest in Jerusalem was the largest in weeks, drawing thousands of demonstrators.

In Kiryat Ono, outside of Tel Aviv, a car fatally struck an 82-year-old protester during a rally against Netanyahu. Dror Soffer was seriously injured, and rushed to Sheba Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. According to police, the driver, a 20-year-old woman soldier, was cooperating with authorities. A source involved in the investigation told Kan broadcaster the driver had been legally crossing the intersection when Soffer burst onto the road.

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (center in black mask) protests with other Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence, Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Photo: Zu Haderech)

Saturday’s events in Jerusalem included several protest marches through the city that converged on Paris Square, near the premier’s official residence. Protesters and organizers, among them Hadash and Communist Party activists from around the country, called for an end to Netanyahu’s reign. Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) told the crowd that approaching Knesset elections would not stop protests and delay events that “will only grow stronger.”

“Our obligation as citizens during elections is to go out and protest against the indicted Netanyahu and not give him any respite. We must remind him of his failures at handling the coronavirus, the economy and the division of the people he has sown. This is a struggle for Israel’s soul – a struggle we must win,” said a statement issued Saturday by the Black Flag Movement, one of the movements that organizes the weekly protests against Netanyahu.

Clashes with police in Jerusalem began around 9 pm and 27 people were arrested after attempting to block off the entrances and exits to the PM’s official residence on Balfour Street. Demonstrators said police used disproportionate force against rally-goers.

Protests were also held at intersections, on highway overpasses and in plazas in the early evening, as on every Saturday in recent months. Protesters held a march in the town of Ness Ziona, south of Tel Aviv, after a demonstrator was assaulted there last week. Demonstrations also took place in the Arab towns of Taibeh, Shefamr, near Sakhnin and Kafr Yassif, where Hadash and Communist Party activists held “red flag protests” calling on the prime minister to resign because of his inciting of racism and the corruption charges for which he has been indicted and is currently on trial.