Israeli protesters gathered on Saturday at dozens of juctions and bridges throughout the country, in the 38th week in a row of demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
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About one thousand demonstrators converged on the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem, as the protest movement hopes to mobilize more people ahead of the March 23 general election.
As well as the junction protests, smaller organized demonstrations were also taking place. 400 people protested in front of Netanyahu's private residence in the coastal town of Caesarea, faced by around a dozen of his supporters. There were also marches in Tel Aviv, the Red Sea resort of Eilat, as well as the central towns of Gedera and Ness Ziona.
The pro-Netanyahu crowd also gathered in Charles Clore park, on the Tel Aviv seafront, and in central Haifa, facing off an anti-Netanyahu crowd.
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The pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv was not organized by his campaign, but by two Likud party members, including firebrand activist Orly Lev, who were also behind demonstrations against Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva.
The event had been planned to take place several times over the last few months but was postponed each time in order to create a larger gathering right before the election, with protesters bussed in from other parts of the country.
The demonstrations come just 10 days ahead of Israel's fourth general election in two years. Netanyahu's Likud party is still leading in the polls, but his path to a clear coalition is blocked, creating further political uncertainty.
"10 days to the election! Let's all take to the streets to stop the troll and bring the country back to sanity!" a statement by the Black Flag protest movement said.
In past weeks, there were several violent incidents, with smaller group of protesters reporting attacks and abuse by Netanyahu supporters. These regular occurences have led to very few indictments over close to ten months of weekly protests.
This week, the Israel Police revoked at least dozens of pandemic-related fines issued at demonstrations. They were dropped after protesters requested to fight the citations in court, proving that they were not issued in accordance with regulations.
The protesters were fined for “failure to maintain distance,” but in practice were being cited for “failure to obey a police order to disperse,” which is subject to a 1,000 shekel ($300) fine. In a number of instances, the fines were imposed at the beginning of a protest or when it was well underway, and without ordering the protesters to disperse