Police remove six-ton statue of protester installed near PM’s residence

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.

Police remove six-ton statue installed near the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Jerusalem by artist and activist Itay Zalait, December 5, 2020. (photo credit: BEN MIZRAHI AND AVIV SHILO)
Police remove six-ton statue installed near the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Jerusalem by artist and activist Itay Zalait, December 5, 2020.
(photo credit: BEN MIZRAHI AND AVIV SHILO)
Police on Saturday removed a statue depicting an anti-Netanyahu protester that was placed illegally at Paris Square in Jerusalem, Ynet has reported.
Located near the prime minister’s official residence, Paris Square has in recent months become a focal point for demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Protesters have also given the site their own name: Democracy Square.
The bronze statue, which is five meters tall and weighs six tons, was put in place late on Friday. It was named “Israeli Hero,” referring to a military decoration for valor, and depicts a male protester wearing a mask and holding a long pole with an Israeli flag as he kneels to avoid being hit by a gushing burst from a water cannon that police sometimes use to disperse uncooperative protesters.

The artist, Itay Zalait, chained himself to his work and was also removed by police when they dismantled the statue. He was detained for questioning but released shortly afterwards.
“I created the statue as a tribute to protesters who are Israel’s heroes at this time,” Zalait told the Megafon-news website. “The protester is an Israeli hero actively participating in protecting Israel as a democratic state.” 
Police noted that the statue was installed without a permit and that it endangered bystanders.
The Crime Minister movement released a statement condemning the police for removing the statue and calling on people to gather on Balfour Street on Saturday night for the weekly demonstrations against Netanyahu.
“It’s not just the statue, the government is trying to make the protests go away,” the movement stated. “Protests will continue and increase during the elections. Our duty as citizens during these elections is to keep protesting against the defendant.”  
Zalait is known for other activist creations including a 2016 golden statue of Netanyahu inspired by the biblical story of the golden calf.
Zalait also created the exhibit at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in July that was dubbed “Netanyahu’s Last Supper.” It depicted an effigy of Netanyahu sitting alone at a table filled with food and drink as he places a hand on a cake shaped like the Israeli flag. It was meant as a protest at the country’s financial crisis.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.