'UAE Deal Won't Keep Us at Home': Anti-Netanyahu Protests Draw Thousands

Hundreds more attended a protest outside Netanyahu's private home in Caesarea, while tens of thousands showed up at bridges and intersections across Israel

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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Protesters carry a sign that reads 'bribery blinds' in Jerusalem, August 15, 2020.
Protesters carry a sign that reads 'bribery blinds' in Jerusalem, August 15, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Thousands of Israelis protested outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night, calling for his resignation for the eighth consecutive week.

LISTEN: Trump's tragedy, Netanyahu's debt and Jewish unityCredit: Haaretz

The usual anti-Netanyahu protesters protesting his current legal troubles over corruption charges were joined by several organizations of self-employed Israelis protesting the failed economic response to the coronavirus crisis. In addition, the protest in Jerusalem featured a "March of Moms" protesting against violence in the Arab-Israeli community.

How the protest movement against Netanyahu went from a few dozen to tens of thousandsCredit: Haaretz

Police in riot gear stormed the Jerusalem protest, removing hundreds of protesters by force, an official statement said. Several protesters were also detained for not wearing masks, the police added. Eleven people in all were arrested, police said during the night after the protest.

A protesters on a bridge in Tel Aviv carries a sign that reads, 'Thanks for Dubai, yalla bye,' August 15, 2020.Credit: Meged Gozani

Earlier in the evening, some of the protesters started to march towards the President's Residence, but the police blocked them because they did not approve the march and arrested one of the demonstrators on suspicion of disturbing the peace.

Protesters are carrying signs that read "Disconnected [politicians], you don't care" and "uniting against the disconnected."

A parallel protest was held near Netanyahu's private home in Caesarea for the fourth week in a row. Several hundred protesters carried signs that read "When will we make peace among ourselves? Stop the incitement", "Corruption kills," and "We shall know better days." Protesters also hung a massive black banner with the word "Liar" written on it in white letters.

Another 50,000 Israelis gathered at bridges and major intersections across Israel for the eighth consecutive week.

Protesters in Jerusalem, August 15, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

A Hadera resident was detained for questioning on suspicion of throwing explosives at protesters, the Police Spokesperson said. Protesters in Hadera said that an unknown person threw an explosive at a vehicle traveling near them. According to one of the protesters, the driver passed between the protesters with his vehicle while they were demonstrating and asked if they were "right-wing or left-wing," and at one point threw an explosive device and fled the scene. The police have not confirmed the incident.

Michal, Assaf and Nitzan came to Caesarea from Tel Aviv to attend the protest. “The deal with the UAE won’t keep people at home or keep them from protesting. It’s nice, but he’s not fit to be prime minister,” Nitzan said. Assaf added, “Netanyahu has proved that he’s unfit to be a leader in the moral sense, and he hasn’t succeeded in handling the crisis. Enough. Go home.”

Credit: Amit Harpaz

At the Jerusalem protest, about twenty doctors in uniforms stood under a sign that read, "In the morning we fight the coronavirus, in the evening we fight corruption."

Protesters in Jerusalem, August 15, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

One of the doctors, Yishai Kelly, said that "If a prime minister between the first and second waves is busy with his own tax benefits and trying to disrupt the legal proceedings against him then it is clear that his head and his time aren't invested in preparing the state for the second wave" of the coronavirus.

The Black Flag movement, which has had a major hand in organizing the protests across Israel said "While the prime minister is busy arranging flights for himself to pools in Abu Dhabi, the nation is collapsing from failed management of the economic-health crisis. Not flights to the Gulf – jobs – in Israel! That's what we demand!" The organization added, "The [man who is] accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that is busy from morning to night with his trial and his incitement is unfit to manage the state of Israel. We don't want an election; we want a functioning prime minister."

Police hold back a protester in Caesarea, August 15, 2020Credit: Rami Shllush

The Crime Minister movement said “Thousands are surging here this week to make clear to the corrupt man at Balfour – even world peace won’t help you. A million unemployed and self-employed people [whose businesses] went under demand to [be able to pay] their monthly bills with dignity and a functioning government led by someone who isn’t corrupt.”

Last Saturday, more than 10,000 protesters gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem to peacefully protest. Meanwhile, thousands more protested across the country.

Masked protesters hold caricatures of Amir Peretz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz, Jerusalem, August 15, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Police in Jerusalem attempted to bring the demonstration to an end shortly after midnight by airing an announcement over loudspeakers. Police started evacuating protesters from the area around the residence around half an hour later.

The ongoing protests against the prime minister have sparked tensions between demonstrates and the police, with clashes taking place at many protests. Right-wing Netanyahu supporters have engaged in violence against anti-Netanyahu protesters, as the protests look unlikely to cease.

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