Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Demonstrators protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem on July 18, 2020.

Coalition Chairman Miki Zohar railed on Saturday night against the health hazard posed by the mass demonstrations taking place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, particularly in view of the renewal of restrictions on public life spurred by the spike in novel coronavirus infections.

Zohar, who also serves as the chairman of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud faction of the Knesset, tweeted (in Hebrew): “To approve mass demonstrations that pose a health risk to all Israeli citizens on the one hand and to close many businesses that adhere to the [COVID-19] guidelines on the other, is absurd.

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“The government must decide: Open up the whole economy, including mass demonstrations full of hatred, or immediately stop these sponsored demonstrations, just as it decided to close the businesses.”

Zohar’s comments came after police were forced to use water cannons to disperse some 1,500 protesters near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. Tear gas was also used to break up a larger rally in Tel Aviv.

These were the latest in a series of violent demonstrations against Netanyahu and his government’s handling of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Police said a request would be submitted to the court to extend the remand of a protester who attacked an officer in Jerusalem, and six other demonstrators who were accused of damaging property during the so-called “rally” in Tel Aviv.

Thirteen arrests were made at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, and 15 demonstrators were arrested at Paris Square in Jerusalem, police said.

Hana Levi Julian contributed to this report.

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