Thousands of demonstrators joined protests calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign near his official residence in Jerusalem and marched through the capital, while thousands more demonstrated at close to 300 locations across the country on Saturday night.
Israel Police foreign press spokesman Micky Rosenfeld put the number of demonstrators near Netanyahu's official residence on the capital's Balfour Street at "more than 10,000" and other reports said 13,000.The Black Flag Movement claimed that around 60,000 people were present at the protests, calling the demonstrations "unprecedented" with tens of thousands of people demanding the resignation of an indicted prime minister who is "destroying the dreams that the country was built on." The movement said that there are thousands of unemployed people and an entire generation that has been harmed because "an indicted man is busy with his trial."
Interim police chief Moti Cohen said the protesters would be protected and no violence would take place, but clashes broke out between police and protesters late on Saturday night. Twelve protesters were arrested for disturbing the public order, attacking police and operating a drone illegally.
מעצר אחרי מעצר. המשטרה מפזרת את ההפגנה בכח. כשעה מהרגע שהוכרזה כלא חוקית pic.twitter.com/wVUohFpyb3— יובל שגב | Yuval Segev (@Segev_Yuval) August 1, 2020
Rosenfeld said, "hundreds of police officers are mobilized in the area to implement health, safety and security measures and prevent any incident from taking place."
But the Black Flag protest movement said the "Jerusalem District Police came unprepared for today's demonstration," complaining that thousands of activists were cramping up at the borders of the area enclosed by police."
"We call upon police to allow all demonstrators to use their democratic right to protest against the rule of the defendant," the movement said.In Tel Aviv, protesters accompanied by police marched from a demonstration at Charles Clore Park towards Rabin Square. The protesters thanked the police at the end of the march, according to Israel Police.According to the Black Flag Movement, protesters in a number of locations around Israel were attacked on Saturday, with some being spit on or having objects thrown at them. At Bilu Center in Rehovot, a driver attempted to run over protesters, according to the movement.
There was tension at the protest, because pro-Likud far-right activists, reported to have been affiliated with the "La Familia" gang violently attacked protesters who had gathered in Tel Aviv Tuesday evening to protest against police brutality and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana's attempts to prevent protests from taking place outside Netanyahu's residence.
At least five protesters were wounded at Tuesday's demonstration and required hospitalization after they were attacked with knives, batons and glass bottles. Protester Shai Sekler was taken to the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv after a bottle had been smashed over his head. The activists who were arrested ended up getting released.
This week "we saw how far the defendant is willing to go against the people of Israel for the sake of his interests," the Black Flag movement said Saturday, "The incitement and hatred coming out of Balfour targeting citizens proves once again he is unfit for office."
The violence "coming out of Balfour will not scare us off. With every time they incite against us, we will rise, as much as they attack us, we shall triumph," the movement added. "The people of Israel deserve leaders that work for the people, not for tax exemptions, not for benefits from submarine deals – leaders that are busy day and night with fighting the health and economic crisis."
The Black Flag movement vowed to continue protesting until the prime minister resigns.
Likud Central Committee members said late Saturday the party was preparing a "surprise" at the anti-government protest near Netanyahu's residence.