Jerusalem Police Clash With anti-Netanyahu Demonstrators as Protest Enters 11th Week

Protesters march through Jerusalem on their way to the prime minister's official residence ■ Prominent artist and activist blocked from entering protest site

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Police clash with anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem, September 5, 2020.
Police clash with anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem, September 5, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

Thousands of Israelis gathered on Saturday evening outside the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem and at other locations around the country for the 11th consecutive week, calling on the prime minister to resign in light of his ongoing corruption trial.

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Alongside the protest, demonstrators marched from the city's Chords Bridge to the official residence. Police forces tried to stop the group from marching through Jaffa Street towards Netanyahu's residence, but protesters removed police barriers and brief clashes ensued. At least 12 arrests were made, and on Sunday a district court extended the detention of five protesters who tried to remove the barriers until Monday afternoon.

Police said two officers were wounded in clashes with protesters.

Prominent artist and activist Zeev Engelmayer, who regularly participates in the weekly demonstrations in the costume of his female character Shoshke, was stopped at the entrance to the demonstration and prevented from entering it.

According to an eyewitness, police detained him after an argument over wearing a mask, but police said the reason was his costume.

Protesters in Jerusalem march towards the prime minister's residence, September 5, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

Engelmayer said police violated his freedom of expression. "Instead of the police arresting our corrupt Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who has cases [against him] and cheated and incites the people against each other, they stop me because of a cloth outfit."

The police said in a statement they detained "a man who arrived at the protest compound dressed as a naked woman, in a manner that could constitute sexual harassment of the public."

Footage from arrest of Israeli artist Zeev Engelmayer, September 5, 2020

Additional demonstrations were held at intersections and on bridges across the country, as well as near Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea, where hundreds gathered. About 40 supporters of the prime minister showed up for a counter-demonstration.

Several dozen people also protested against Netanyahu's government on bridges in the Arab cities of Taibeh and Nazareth.

Wajdi Haj Yahya, a resident of Taibeh, has been protesting on a bridge at the entrance to the city for six weeks. "We are growing from week to week," he said. Demonstrations in the city continue even though the city has been defined as "red" due to high coronavirus infection rates. "Corona will not prevent us from demonstrating and protesting," he said.

Protesters at Habonim bridge in central Israel, September 5, 2020.Credit: Rami Shllush

Salim Abbas, a member of the Arab-Jewish movement Standing Together, who demonstrated in Nazareth, said: "We demand that the government start working for us in health, livelihood and welfare. We demand hope."

The protest comes amid ongoing tensions between protesters and the police. On Friday night, thirteen anti-government activists were arrested for attempting to load several police crowd control barriers onto a truck, ahead of Saturday's demonstration outside the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem.

In addition, a press photographer was detained for over an hour, with the police confiscating his camera. He was detained, according to the police, because his press card had expired.

Nine of the activists will be brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to extend their detention on Saturday evening.

Last Saturday, about 20,000 protesters gathered outside Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem. Tensions ran high with police following documented incidents of police violence at a previous protest.

Parallel protests were held outside Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea and at over 300 bridges and major intersections nationwide.

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