Tel Aviv, 6 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Israeli police arrested 12 people early on Sunday, as thousands protested for the 11th week running against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they accuse of corruption and of inefficiently dealing with a second wave of coronavirus.
Police came under fire on Sunday for detaining a well-known comedian, Zeev Engelmayer, dressed up as his character “Shoshka” in a bodysuit of a naked woman.
All Engelmayer had done was exercise his democratic right to demonstrate, furious protesters charged. The Black Flags anti-corruption protest movement called his arrest “unprecedented.”
Police said they were debating with state prosecutors whether dressing up as naked women could be seen as offensive to the public.
“It was provocative behaviour. He was detained at the scene and released afterwards, nothing more than that,” police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said.
Witnesses said police also tried to seize two giant pink and black submarines carried by marchers in Jerusalem, leading to scuffles.
The mock submarines were a reference to alleged bribery and conflicts of interest in Israel’s acquisition of German-made submarines and naval vessels.
Netanyahu associates, but not the premier himself, are suspects in the so-called Case 3000. Netanyahu has been indicted in three other suspected corruption cases against him. The protesters demand a fourth indictment, or at least further investigation, into the multibillion-dollar deal with the German shipmaker.
Police called over megaphones on marchers to vacate roads in central Jerusalem, formed human chains and carried away protesters who ignored their calls. Two officers were lightly injured, Rosenfeld said.
Demonstrations against Netanyahu after sunset on Saturdays have become a weekly occurrence since June, drawing tens of thousands at times. This weekend saw fewer in attendance compared to the previous week. It was unclear whether this was because of exceptionally hot weather, or due to decreasing interest.
Economic protesters hit hard by coronavirus restrictions have joined political protesters, who demand the long-time prime minister step down until he proves his innocence in a corruption trial that started against him in May. Netanyahu denies the allegations against him.