Two thousands Israelis protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of his official residence in Jerusalem, as demonstrations calling for the premier's resignation resumed on Saturday evening, for the 25th week in a row.
Another 1,000 gathered near Netanyahu's home in Caesarea, and several hundreds more assembled in Tel Aviv's Habima Square. Other demonstrations took place at intersections, bridges and squares across Israel.
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Protesters also marched to the home of Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the central Israeli city of Rosh Ha'ayin, angry at the Kahol Lavan leader for apparently failing to insist on replacing Netanyahu. "The conditions for replacing Netanyahu are ripe," a statement from the organizers, the Black Flag movement, said. "The idea that Gantz will extend Netanyahu's term further is despicable."
In Jerusalem, police barred protesters from reaching Ord Wingate Square, where they had planned to gather before setting off to "besiege" nearby Paris Square, the central site of the demonstrations in the capital, adjacent to the prime minister's official residence on Balfour Street. Checkpoints and vehicles were set up on all access roads so as to prevent the protesters from reaching the junction.
The protest group Crime Minister lambasted the police and Jerusalem District Commander Doron Yedid. "In the service of the defendant from Balfour, Doron Yedid is violating foundational democractic rights and preventing us from exercising our right to protest. There is no red line that the Jerusalem police will not cross to protect the defendant and sabotage the protest. Doron Yedid must not be [made] commissioner," said the statement.
Last week's protest in Jerusalem, ahead of a court hearing on Netanyahu's request to dismiss his corruption cases that took place on Sunday, was the largest in weeks. The decision by two protest groups – the Movement for Quality Government and Helem Tarbut – to nix Tel Aviv activities and bus protesters to Jerusalem contributed to the boost in turnout.
Police had then arrested around 30 people on suspicion of disturbing the peace, and used force to disperse protesters blocking Balfour Street to traffic. The Crime Minister protest group condemned the arrests, saying in a statement: "Tonight, it was proven that the Jerusalem Police are a political police on steroids."
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In the wealthy central city of Savyon, people also protested in memory of 83-year-old Dror Sofer, who was killed after being hit by a car while protesting last week.
Although police have said that Sofer was not deliberately run over, the incident was the first of its kind since anti-Netanyahu demonstrations began in July.