Photo: Flash90

Anti-Netanyahu protests continue

Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz informed the Israeli leadership on the latest developments on the country’s northern front. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Minister Gantz also seized the opportunity to once against warn the Lebanese Iranian-proxy Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah not to test Israel’s resolve to defend itself.

“If Nasrallah thinks he can cross red lines, he will be met with a painful response to remind him of Israel’s military superiority – and he will be jeopardizing the State of Lebanon, which will be held accountable for any hostile action from its territory,” warned the Israeli Defense chief.

Alternate Premier Gantz further addressed the public unrest that has been plaguing the Jewish State over the past several weeks, including a demonstration that was held in front of the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, that included some ten’ thousand protesters. While the demonstrators called on the government to resign over alleged failure to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Gantz urged his fellow ministers to project leadership by avoiding rhetoric that could be used to further exacerbating the situation.

“We expect the public to follow the rules, act appropriately, and treat one another (opposing protest groups) with respect. I ask all of you here as well – let’s not exaggerate or polarize,  let’s not attack each other for the sake of attacking. Leadership is first and foremost about setting a personal example – what do we project to the public,” he said.

As was the case in previous protests, toward the end of the demonstration, a relatively small group of people scuffled with enforcement authorities. “As members of the government, it is our duty to listen to people. As the government, it is our responsibility to enable the protests and defend protesters, who unfortunately were also attacked in several places, yesterday. The right to protest is a cornerstone of democracy, while violence erodes it. Last week I spoke with (Justice) Minister, (Amir) Ohana. I reiterate here my call to refrain from any violence and call upon the police to employ the bare minimum of power needed to uphold the law and protect the well being of protesters,” said Gantz.

It is important to highlight that in contrast to numerous media publications of widespread scuffles, Assistant Police Commander of the Zion District, Ofer Shomer, reported that 10,000 people at the Saturday rally behaved in an “exemplary manner,” 200 misbehaved by refusing to disperse at 2 AM and 10 were ultimately arrested.

In response to the reported violence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a rebuking statement against the rioters, writing: “Don’t drag the country towards anarchy, violence and attacks against the police.”

Many of the demonstrators seemingly remain undeterred by those words, and have vowed to return every week until Netanyahu resigns the premiership. “Next week we’re going to do this all over again,” on activist identified as Dan told Reuters. “It doesn’t matter — a twisted ankle, a broken leg or a broken head — I’m going to still going to come here until Benjamin Netanyahu will go home,” he said.