Protesters and organizers calling for an end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reign said that Israeli elections will not stop protests and that they will continue to demonstrate and hold events that "will only grow stronger.""Our obligation as citizens during elections is to go out and protest the accused [Netanyahu] and not give him any respite. We must remind him of his failures at handling the coronavirus and the economy, and the division of the people [he has caused]. This is a struggle for Israel's soul - a struggle we must win," said the Black Flags Movement, one of several that organize the weekly protests against the prime minister, in a statement on Saturday.The Investigate Now movement, an organization demanding an investigation against Netanyahu in Case 3000, the "Submarines Affair," also said that elections will not end protests."Elections or not, the citizens of Israel deserve to know if the prime minister of Israel dealt in Israel's security because of greed. This is the most serious security incident since the founding of the country - an incident that if it turns out to be true, will not be forgiven," said the organization in a statement also on Saturday.Thousands gathered at protests Saturday night outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, according to Israeli media.Hundreds of cars drove in a protest caravan travelling to the demonstrations, while groups of protesters marched to the residence Saturday night, arriving from four different locations in Jerusalem. The Hasphira Leachor (countdown) protest organization held an alternative torch lighting ceremony in protest of the postponement of Netanyahu's trial, calling on the Knesset to legislate a bill that would prevent someone under indictment from serving as prime minister."For three months, we have counted down to the day of Netanyahu's trial beginning again – and as we were warned, he managed to escape it again," said the organization. "A shocking nightmare is unfolding before us, in which a full-time accused man, who is in a conflict of interest for every decision he makes, is dragging the country to the fourth round of elections in three years," the organization went on to say.Israel Police detained 20 people and forcibly removed a number of protesters who were blocking traffic and disturbing the peace around the residence, according to a police spokesperson.
Protesters also gathered at intersections and bridges across the country.No large protest events were scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv, with buses bringing protesters from there to Jerusalem in order to increase attendance at the main protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence, after recent reductions in the number of protesters there, Haaretz reported.
An 82-year-old protester, who was also the father of Facebook Israel's CEO, was hit by a car in the center of the country and died on Saturday night. Black Flags commented on the recent removal of a statute erected in front of the Prime Minister's Residence, saying that, "with Israel going to elections, the authorities are removing anti-government artwork without permission."Police removed a statue depicting an anti-Netanyahu protester that was illegally installed at Paris Square in Jerusalem on Friday, Ynet reported. The bronze statue - reaching a height of five meters and weighing six tons - was named Gibor Israel (Israel's hero), which refers to a decoration for valor received in the IDF. It depicts a protester holding an Israeli flag as he is hit by gushing water from a water-cannon vehicle for dispersing protests.Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.