The head of the Black Flag anti-corruption protest movement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Brig.-Gen. Amir Haskel, who was arrested and jailed for blocking streets, said at a Tel Aviv press conference on Sunday that he did not regret his actions.
"A red line was crossed on Friday that should not have been crossed, and the goal was to silence the protest against the indicted Benjamin Netanyahu," Haskel said. "If my arrest and that of two more friends ignited a fire, the price was worth it."
Haskel vowed to continue protests against Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem and to start a new protest tent in Tel Aviv. He called on Netanyahu to resign and reach a plea agreement in his criminal cases.
"In the last week, we have seen how busy Netanyahu is in milking money from the public instead of helping the citizens of the state," he said, referring to Netanyahu's request for hundreds of thousands of shekels in retroactive tax refunds from the Knesset Finance Committee.
Haskel promised that he would not enter politics, saying that he was not fit for it.
Protests organized by the Black Flag movement against corruption broke out across Israel late Saturday, with demonstrators blocking more than 70 intersections nationwide following Haskel's arrest. Haskel was one of seven people arrested at a protest outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem because the organization had not received permission to stage the rally and Haskel and others were allegedly blocking the road.
Haskel protested that he was ordered to sign a restraining order on Friday night that bars him from Jerusalem for 15 days. He was released from jail unconditionally on Saturday night after Judge Orna Sandler Eitan rejected the police's request for the ban.
Sandler Eitan called the request a "disproportionate step" and said "the right to demonstrate is a fundamental right in a democratic state."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz sparred over Haskel's arrest at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
"Freedom of demonstration is important," Netanyahu said. "I do not interfere with police decisions but the condemnation of law violators should be equal on all sides of the political map."
Gantz presented the event differently than Netanyahu, stating that the right to demonstrate is "a sacred right."
"The claim that the right to demonstrate should be limited is absurd," Netanyahu then clarified.Jeremy Sharon, Tamar Beeri and Leon Sverdlov contributed to this report.