Police arrested 38 anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv Saturday evening as tens of thousands demonstrated across the country and in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem for the 15th consecutive week.
All but one of the arrested protesters were later released under restrictions. The protester who has not been released is suspected of attacking a police officer. A hearing on extending his detention is set to be held on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of demonstrations were held throughout the country under the slogan "a kilometer it is," referring to the government restriction passed last week that limited protesters to a one-kilometer radius from their homes amid the spike in coronavirus cases.
Clashes between protesters and police broke out in Tel Aviv, with arrests taking place and mounted units deployed. Protesters breached police barricades near Habima Square and began marching through the city while blocking traffic. In south Tel Aviv, officers were documented punching protesters as they attempted to break through crowds. Police claim that protesters are violating coronavirus restrictions and disturbing the public order.
A local police chief also claimed that protesters used violence against police, which included throwing eggs, and said that a policewoman was injured during the clashes, but did not elaborate on the claim.
The police said in a statement: "Many demonstrators violated public order, blocked roads, ignored police instructions and resorted to physical and verbal violence." Police also added that they handed out hundreds of fines to demonstrators in the city over alleged violation of restrictions.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was also seen at the protest in Tel Aviv and appeared to have been lightly injured amid the clashes, although it was unclear exactly how he sustained the injury. Huldai said that he was feeling well.
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The Black Flag protest movement estimated that 130,000 people took part in Saturday's protests against Netanyahu in cities and towns across the country.
Before the clashes broke out, dozens of police officers circled the roughly 1,000 protesters in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, approaching protesters in order to check if their place of residence is within one kilometer of the protest. Police also handed out fines to protesters, and confirmed late Saturday night that they had handed out hundreds of fines in Tel Aviv alone for violations of the emergency regulations.
The rallies, which began on Thursday and Friday in the wake of the new distance limitations on protests, are a joint effort by organizations that have been protesting against Netanyahu’s continued tenure despite having been criminally indicted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases.