55 Arrested as Anti-Gov’t Protest Turns Violent

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Police use water cannon against protesters during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, near Netanyahu’s residence in Yerushalayim, Thursday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Police were forced to use water cannons to disperse protesters in central Yerushalayim and arrested at least 55 of them as clashes broke out overnight after thousands staged a protest against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The protest near the prime minister’s residence began around sundown on Thursday and was initially largely peaceful. A smaller counterprotest in support of Netanyahu was held nearby, with the two camps separated by metal barricades and a large police presence.

Police say they moved in to disperse the protesters when they tried to stage a procession through the city. Police scuffled with demonstrators before four large trucks roared into action, spraying water cannons back and forth, scattering the protesters.

Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust over a series of long-running corruption investigations. Critics say he is more focused on escaping legal accountability than on containing the coronavirus pandemic. Many have speculated he intends to call yet another election, allegations he dismissed as “absurd” in a Thursday press conference.

At the same conference, held as the protests were underway, he called on demonstrators not to clash with police, saying it would “lead to anarchy.”