Twenty-thousand people protest in 10th consecutive week of demonstrations against Netanyahu, ending with 16 arrests.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Sixteen people were arrested at anti-Netanyahu protests in Jerusalem on Saturday night, during the 10th consecutive weeks of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Some 20,000 people demonstrated in Jerusalem – 300 at Netanyahu’s Caesarea home – and smaller groups of protesters held signs and banners on 315 bridges and highway overpasses throughout Israel.
Starting at the Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, 2,000 protesters marched in an unauthorized demonstration along Jaffa Street towards Paris Square.
The police did not interfere with the group’s movement, even as they disrupted traffic and public transportation, including the Jerusalem light rail, for an hour.
At 11:00 p.m., when the protests were officially slated to end, the demonstrators sat on the ground, blocking traffic and pedestrian walkways. At midnight, the police began physically removing and arresting protesters and issued fines to those continuing to block traffic.
The Black Flag movement said in a statement, “While the country is collapsing, Netanyahu was busy from morning to night this week, trying to replace the prosecutor in his trial and attempting to appoint a police commissioner who will not investigate the submarine affair.”
“The country must free itself from the yoke Netanyahu has placed it under, a yoke that is crushing the economy, health and social cohesiveness that have defined Israel. Israel deserves hope and a better future, not living in fear of a tyrant.”
In addition to the left-wing protesters affiliated with the Black Flag and Crime Minister protest movements, some unexpected new faces joined the fray at the Jerusalem demonstrations.
Around 200 Breslov Hasidim demonstrated against Netanyahu, a surprising development after years of solidarity between the Haredi political parties and Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Holding signs with phrases such as “Netanyahu has lost our vote,” “Netanyahu is a liar,” and “Netanyahu is against Rabbi Nachman,” the Breslov expressed their anger over the decision to bar Israelis from entering Ukraine during the Jewish New Year.
An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Israelis, most of them Breslov, make the annual pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman in Uman during the Jewish New Year period.
Last week, Israeli coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu wrote a letter to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking Zelensky to bar Israelis from entering Ukraine for the next month.
Zelensky agreed to Gamzu’s request and banned the entry of foreign nationals into Ukraine until September 28. Gamzu released a statement in praise of the decision, calling it “responsible and correct action” that would “preserve the health of thousands of people in Israel and Ukraine.”
Yair Cherki, a Haredi reporter for Channel 12 News, interviewed the Breslov protesters on Saturday night, asking them why their anger was directed at Netanyahu.
“It was Gamzu’s decision [to ask for the ban], not Netanyahu’s,” Cherki said to a demonstrator.
“And who stands behind that decision? One man. And that’s Netanyahu,” the protester replied.
According to Channel 12 News, Netanyahu has reached out to Haredi leaders and promised them he’s working to find a solution that will allow a smaller number of people to make the pilgrimage.