Thousands Protest Against Netanyahu; 6 Arrested, Protesters Report Attacks by PM's Supporters

Video shows police attempt to forcefully remove demonstrators ■ Protesters start small bonfire

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A bonfire lit by demonstrators, with the black curtain in the background that hides the Prime Minister's official residence, December 26, 2020.
A bonfire lit by demonstrators, with the black curtain in the background that hides the Prime Minister's official residence, December 26, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Thousands of Israelis protested Saturday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem and across the country, with several reporting that they were attacked by the premier's supporters.

Around 3,000 protesters that gathered in Paris Square, near Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem.

The protests began earlier than previous weeks in order to arrive before police closed the area off. Over the last month, police have banned protests that stray from the nearby Paris Square by cordoning off the prime minister's residence, even to pedestrians.

The Israel Police have arrested six protesters as demonstrators clashed with the officers. Videos show police officers forcefully removing protesters from the scene. All 200 protesters were eventually forced out by police to Paris Square.

Meanwhile, several other demonstrators, who arrived with torches, started a small bonfire near the main entry to the residence. It has been since put out by firefighters and relighted by the protesters two more times.

Demonstrators protested in front of a black curtain that hangs at the front of Netanyahu's official residence, which protesters called to "bring down the curtain."

The demonstration outside Netanyahu's official residence, December 26, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The intention of these latest protests is to surround all the entrances of the premier's residence in an act they have nicknamed the "Balfour siege."

Two attack anti-Netanyahu protesters at Givat Ada

Around 200 anti-Netanyahu protesters gathered in Nes Tziona in front of ten pro-Netanyahu counter protesters who held signs that read “leftist traitors” and “the leftist enemy,” while also shouting the names of the leaders of several anti-Netanyahu movements.

In Giv’at Ada, a town near Haifa, anti-Netanyahu protesters said they were attacked by Netanyahu supporters. A video of the incident shows a man in a black shirt approaching an anti-Netanyahu protester and hitting him in the neck, and a brief confrontation ensues. Israel Police arrived to the scene and are investigating the situation.

Following the incident, Israel Police announced that they arrested a 17 year old resident of Or Akiva, and a 52 year old woman, both accused of attacking protesters. Israel Police said: “At the end of the investigation, and in accordance with the evidence presented, extending the suspects’ custody was discussed.”

In the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion, protesters reported that a man threatened them, holding what appeared to be a knife. One of the protesters said the group marched from the Monument to the Fallen in Rishon Letzion to a place where a shuttle bus was going to take them to Balfour Street.

According to the protester, a car stopped in front of them and threw what appeared to be a bottle. A protester threw it back at the car, and the driver exited the car and approached the protester in what appeared to be a threatening manner. “The man returned to the car, pulled on the handbrake and pulled out what looked like a switchblade it, and I saw him open it.”

According to a video of the incident, the driver went back into his car and drove away. The protester said he issued a formal complaint with the police, and said he’d provide evidence.

Saturday's protest marks the 27th week of the anti-Netanyahu protests. Hundreds also marched from Jerusalem's String Bridge to the Balfour residence.

Protests also took place on bridges and junctions across the country, as well as at Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea, and in Tel Aviv.

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