With the March 23 elections rapidly approaching, the weekly nationwide protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off on Saturday, March 6, for the 37th consecutive week, bigger and louder than in the recent past. Protesters gathered at some 550 central squares, intersections, and overpasses throughout the country starting in the afternoon, and called on Netanyahu to resign. Several groups of protesters once again reported violent attacks against them.
As with every week, major protests took place outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and nearby Netanyahu’s private home in the coastal city of Caesarea. This past Saturday, a rally was also held in Hadera, near to where Netanyahu was holding a campaign event with few dozens of supporters.
A statement by the Black Flag protest movement indicated that famed Israeli artists, activists and lecturers attended rallies at a number of intersections to show their support for the anti-Netanyahu campaign. It also criticized the Likud Party for deliberately trying to harm protesters, noting that violence against anti-Netanyahu demonstrators has become routine. “The defendant (Netanyahu) and his supporters are doing everything in their power to hurt the protest movement. Cyber attacks, physical assaults and incitement coming from the Likud election campaign have become normal,” the Black Flag statement read. “This culture of incitement and hate is directed toward anyone who opposes the defendant heading this government. This madness must end on March 23. The protests will continue.”
The movement’s statement about the systemic violence used to intimidate protesters reflected the reality met by several this past Saturday. One protester was reportedly assaulted near Moshav Yavne’el in northern Israel. Other violent and verbal assaults directed at protesters were reported in Tel Aviv, Karmiel, Moshav Eliakim, the Solelim Junction and Jalama Bridge near Haifa.
In Tel Aviv, right beside the anti-Netanyahu protest taking place at Habima Square on Saturday, hundreds of environmental activists protested against the far-right government’s failure in dealing with the recent oil spill along the coast of Israel. Protesters were seen carrying signs that read, “Prevent the next oil spill.” Among those addressing the crowd was former Hadash MK Dov Khenin, a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel and well know environmental activist.