Thousands-strong anti-Netanyahu Demonstration Follows Protest Leader’s Arrest

About 1,500 protesters have gathered outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem Saturday evening after seven activists, including protest leader Amir Haskel, were arrested at a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  

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Police said that officers are are present at the protest, and have blocked off streets close to the Prime Minister's Residence to traffic. "The Israel Police will work to allow free speech and protest alongside keeping the public order. Together with that, it will act severely against any attempt to disturb the public order or harm the public." 

Yesh Atid MK Moshe Ya'alon spoke at the protest, said that they arrested Haskel "Because they can, and we're here to say that not everything is allowed." He added that Netanyahu's rule is being carried out through Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, who is in charge of the Israel Police. Ohana's version of events for Haskel's arrest, he said, is untrue. 

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He also took his former fellow Kahol Lavan members Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi to task for joining Netanyahu's government, saying he warned them against trusting him. "If Amir Haskel, your commander, was arrested as a criminal and absorb all these curses, where have we gotten to? Shame!" 

Additional protests are taking place at some 70 intersections throughout the country. Dozens of protesters are protesting at each junction, holding signs reading "Netanyahu is corrupt and corrupting," "Investigation now" (referring to the so-called submarine affair), "The suspect needs to go home," and other slogans. 

Protesters in the northern town of Binyamina claim that they were attacked by a pro-Netanyahu counter-protester during the demonstration. One protester, Maoz Yinon, said that about an hour and a half into the protest, a car full of Netanyahu supporters arrived and screamed at demonstrators; one sprayed them with pepper spray.

Yinon said that a young man was evacuated by Magen David Adom to the hospital, and two older protesters were hurt by the pepper spray and were treated at the scene.