Police used water cannon against anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem on Saturday, January 30, as demonstrators rallied nationwide for the 32nd consecutive week. About a thousand protesters gathered at Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge and began marching towards Paris Square the location of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence, but changed course in order to first pass by the homes of the Netanyahu family in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Katamon.
There, a number of marchers clashed with police, and two protest organizers were arrested. One person was injured after being hit in the face by the jet from a water cannon and was taken to hospital. His injury was said to be mild. A short while later, the march continued to Balfour Street, where the PM’s official residence is located.
Protesters gathered on Saturday on bridges and at intersections around the country over Netanyahu’s indictment on graft charges and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. One thousands protesters gathered at Habima Square in Tel Aviv and hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Netanyahu’s home in the coastal town of Caesarea. Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists took part in all the main protests.
While use of water cannon against Arab protestors has been common for years, most recently in the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on Friday, January 29, they have been used more frequently in recent months against mainly Jewish anti-Netanyahu protesters. The Crime Minister movement, one of the groups leading the protests, charged that Netanyahu was using the pandemic to delay his corruption trial and accused the premier of being beholden to his ultra-Orthodox allies in the coalition.
“At the height of a health and economic catastrophe, the defendant [Netanyahu] takes Israel hostage to postpone his trial while he bows to his ‘natural partners’ the ultra-Orthodox parties,” the organization said in a statement. Health Ministry data released Saturday evening showed there have been 4,738 reported COVID-19 deaths in Israel since the start of the pandemic, with over 25 percent of them in the past month alone.