Thousands demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and at traffic junctions, bridges and intersections nationwide for the 30th week in a row on Saturday.
In Jerusalem, several thousands gathered near the Chords Bridge and headed to Paris Square, the central site of the demonstrations in the capital, adjacent to the prime minister's official residence on Balfour Street.
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Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the police set up roadblocks on the streets leading to the premier's Balfour residence – a response to protesters' arrival at demonstrations earlier in the afternoon over the past several weeks in anticipation of police deployment.
Dozens of demonstraters gathered In Nes Tziona, where they face threats and occasionally physical attacks from anti-Netanyahu counter protesters each week. A number of Netanyahu supporters gathered at the site of the protest, threatening and swearing at the demonstrators. According to witnesses, at the end of the protest, one of the Netanyahu supporters spat at the protesters, then pushed them. He was subsequently arrested by police.
Demonstrators gathered in Caesarea, close to Netanyahu's private residence. Protests also took place in Holon, where last week, four were arrested on suspicion of firing tear gas at anti-Netanyahu protesters. The court dismissed them under restrictive conditions, and the police said one of them was trying to disrupt the investigation.
Ahead of the demonstrations, the Crime Minister group called “on all those for whom Israel is important to show up tonight at Balfour and make it clear to the defendant that he cannot take an entire country hostage and evade the law," referring to the premier who stands trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
On Wednesday, when Netanyahu’s next hearing in his corruption trial was initially slated to take place, Crime Minister activists held up a "wake-up" call demonstration at 5:30 A.M., the first time they had gathered at such an hour.
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On Monday, the panel of judges presiding over Netanyahu’s trial, had announced that the next hearing will be held on February 8. That announcement came just a few days after the court had ruled that the trial would be postponed “indefinitely,” citing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, even though, just days prior, the court had rejected a request made by the premier’s defense counsel to postpone the hearing, also citing the lockdown.
Israel's third nationwide coronavirus lockdown – considered by many to be a "political lockdown" – commenced on December 27, with restrictions having been further tightened for a two-week period that began at midnight between January 7 and 8.