New Year Sees Thousands Rallying against Far-Right PM across Israel

Thousands demonstrated outside far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Jerusalem residence Saturday night, January 2, in the latest weekend protest calling for the premier’s resignation over his corruption trial, this being the first demonstration there since Israel entered its third national lockdown on Sunday of last week, December 28.

Two Hadash MKs joined the protest, Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh and Ofer Cassif. Odeh called for joint Jewish and Arab partnership to combat division in their ranks saying, “The right-wing government chooses incitement and hatred and abandons the citizens in a country in deep social and economic crisis. Our struggle is not just to replace Netanyahu but also to replace his way. Only together can we build a safe future of peace and prosperity for all citizens of the state, Jewish and Arab.”

Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) addresses protestors near the PM's official residence in Jerusalem, Saturday night, January 2, 2021.

Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) addresses protestors near the PM’s official residence in Jerusalem, Saturday night, January 2, 2021. (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Protesters in Jerusalem marched from the city’s main entrance to the PM’s residence on Balfour Street where they blocked numerous streets near his official abode. At one point, as they marched through a tunnel, a car drove into the demonstrators and nearly hit several of them, as a video of the incident recorded.

Police arrested eight anti-Netanyahu demonstrators during clashes outside the Prime Minister’s residence. The scuffles broke out after dozens of protesters broke through police barricades outside the compound on the capital’s Balfour Street, according to Zo Haderech, the Hebrew-language publication of the Communist Party of Israel.

Also on Saturday night, The Movement for Quality Government in Israel held a march to Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea. Some 300 of the organization’s activists gathered and began to walking to the side. Additional protests were held, as they have been every Saturday evening for more than six months, at major intersections, in squares and on highway overpasses around the country.

The police reportedly arrested two teenagers on suspicion of throwing rocks at protesters demonstrating against Netanyahu in the northern community of Yavne’el. The 14 and 15-year-old were arrested after police received a report that rocks had been hurled at protesters, injuring one of them.

On Thursday and Friday, December 31 and January 1, thousands demonstrated against Netanyahu at a number of locations throughout the country. On Thursday night, about 2,000 protesters briefly blocked a major Tel Aviv intersection next to the city’s Azrieli Center. Another group of protesters demonstrated at Habima Square in Tel Aviv. Some of them marched to the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party. The demonstrators carried an inflatable submarine, emblematic of the massive corruption scandal involving the purchase of naval vessels that has ensnared several of Netanyahu’s associates, but not the premier himself. In the northern city of Binyamina, dozens of Netanyahu supporters staged a counter protest, some clashing with the police and anti-Netanyahu protesters.

Crime Minister, one of the main anti-Netanyahu protest groups, said in a statement: “At the start of the New Year we are determined to continue the demonstrations that brought down the dysfunctional government of the accused and which will bring his downfall in the upcoming elections.” Netanyahu’s far-right coalition with Benny Gantz’s Blue & White collapsed in late December as the sides failed to agree on a state budget, and elections have been scheduled for March 23.

Videos from demonstration last Saturday night, January 2, in Jerusalem: