Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Protesters outside the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem, July 25, 2020.

About 5,000 people protested near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, calling for his resignation. Netanyahu and his family spent the Shabbat in their private villa in Caesarea, with some 500 demonstrators kept a good distance from the estate.

After patiently waiting for the demonstrations to disperse close to two hours after the official end of the demonstration, 11:00 PM, police dispersed the remaining demonstrators using water cannons.

Protesters outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, July 25, 2020. / Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
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Clashes broke out between police and protesters, 12 people were arrested detained, including protesters and rightwing activists affiliated with the Betar Jerusalem soccer team who attacked several of them on a side street as they left the demonstration. According to the demonstrators, the attackers shouted at them “Only Bibi,” kicked them and threatened to stab them with a knife. The demonstrators claimed to have been attacked with glass bottles, and a helmet was thrown at the head of one of them. They managed to escape and complained to police.

Stab wound of demonstrator at the Sha’ar Hanegev junction, July 25, 2020. / Screenshot

During a small demonstration at the Sha’ar Hanegev junction Saturday night, a demonstrator from the “Black Flags” protest movement was stabbed and wounded superficially in the neck. A resident of Sderot in his 20s was arrested.

In Ramat Gan, police arrested a city resident, 34, on suspicion of spraying pepper spray at protesters at the Aluf Sadeh interchange. The suspect allegedly passed by the protesters in his car and sprayed them.

A lawyer representing residents living near the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem has announced that they intend to sue the police for allowing the demonstrations to continue “long past the hour allowed by law.”

In recent demonstrations, police have confiscated the Vuvuzelas (their local name is Zambura) being blown by demonstrators, sometimes by force, to make life a little easier for the neighbors. It has been claimed that the protesters are using the Vuvuzela cacophony to spread the coronavirus.

You live and learn.

Residents of Rechavia travelled to the city of Modi’in Saturday night to protest outside the home of Gonen Ben-Yitzchak, one of the organizers of the non-stop protests in Rechavia. They gave Ben-Yitzchak’s neighbors a dose of the same medicine. It is unlikely that this would suffice to stop the protesters, certainly not the anarchists in Jerusalem. Especially since none of the Rechavia folks would take off their shirts.

Eleven days have passed since the first major demonstration on Balfour Street, since the first detainees and the first water cannons. In these 11 days, there have been at least eight large demonstrations in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence, each one bigger than the one before.

Police close down central Jerusalem’s main traffic arteries several times a week, and Paris square fills up quickly with protesters shuttled over from Tel Aviv. That’s when the rallies come to life, with pep speeches, group singing, meditation circles, street theater, dances, the occasional fire eater.

In recent demonstrations there were a number of women who took off their shirts in protest, which attracted intrigued young men to the demonstration on Saturday night. Only one woman took off her shirt on Saturday and quickly put it on again.

The police have been trying to locate the leaders of the demonstrations in order to arrest them, but it is clear that most of the detainees were caught at random. The fact is that until last night’s arrests on suspicion of violence, the courts released everyone, some with an order to keep out of Jerusalem for a short period of time.

I watched the live video feed from Paris Square for hours Saturday night and there did not seem to be a real leader of the demonstration. But I don’t kid myself – no demonstration is ever spontaneous. Someone pays for the busses. In this case, it was suggested the culprit was former prime minister Ehud Barak. The New Israel Fund is always a credible suspect. But the daily gatherings of angry Israelis – many of them small business owners and unemployed professionals, not dyed in the wool leftists necessarily – suggests an authentic wave of discontent following the economic collapse borne by the pandemic.

There were no speeches Saturday night, no applause, only hours of shouted slogans, ceaseless percussion, and the occasional dancing and singing. The dispersal phase stretched for a long time and spread to all the streets around the prime minister’s residence. The power of the demonstration diminished as soon as it was dispersed into smaller groups. The energy was gone and many left well before the water show.

Until the next round, which is likely to take place Sunday night.

Meanwhile, from one round to the next, the strength of the demonstrations keeps growing. If I lived in Balfour, I would move to a tzimmer in the Galilee for a month. It is an expensive but oh, so quiet solution.

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