Police arrest 23 anti-Netanyahu protesters who blocked main highway

Police shut down march on main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway because protesters didn’t get a permit.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Police arrested 23 protesters who staged a march on the busy Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway Saturday evening. They were carrying giant inflatable submarines and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over allegations of corruption surrounding the deal to purchase submarines for the Israeli Navy.

Police clashed with several hundred people walking along a lane of Highway 1 and arrested 23 demonstrators who police said refused orders to disperse and were blocking traffic on the main artery between the two cities.

“The demonstrators started the procession, posing a risk to their lives and the lives of road users,” police said, adding that protest organizers had not received the required permit.

The protesters oppose Netanyahu serving as prime minister while under indictment on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals involving billionaire associates and media moguls.

Netanyahu’s trial in a media bribery scheme – according to which media executives promised to weaken circulation of the Israel Hayom newspaper and promote its rival paper, Yediot Ahronot, in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister-  resumed Sunday. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing.

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The participants in the demonstration carried mock submarines and called for an inquiry into the submarine affair, dubbed Case 3000, surrounding allegations of bribes paid to Netanyahu associates for Israel’s purchase of submarines from the German ship building company ThyssenKrupp.

The “Crime Minister” protest movement said the “law-abiding demonstrators” were demanding a re-opening of the investigation “into the serious submarine affair. ”

However, justice officials investigating the case had previously ruled that Netanyahu was not a suspect.

Leaders of the different protest groups opposed to Netanyahu blamed the police for the confrontation.

A lawyer for the protesters, Gonen Ben Yitchak, told Kan News that he applied to the police on Monday for a permit to hold the highway protest but was turned down.

Despite the police refusal to allow the protest on the normally busy road where the speed limit ranges from 100 to 120 kph (60-72 mph), the demonstrators decided to go ahead on the highway, with Ben Yitzchak accusing the police of blocking their right to protest.