Israeli anti-government protesters rally in Jerusalem

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Anti-government protesters took to the streets of Jerusalem on Monday, clashing with police near the house of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling for new elections.

Netanyahu once again sits atop one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel’s history after a wartime unity government fell apart a week ago when two centrist former generals, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, quit. Netanyahu is now dependent on ultra-Orthodox and far-right partners, whose hardline agenda caused a major rift in Israeli society even before Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault sparked the war in Gaza.

The often-weekly demonstrations have yet to change the political landscape, and Netanyahu still controls a stable majority in parliament.

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Following the departures of Gantz and Eisenkot, opposition groups declared a week of street protests that include blocking highways and mass demonstrations.

By sundown, a crowd of thousands had gathered outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, before marching to Netanyahu’s private home in the city.

The demonstration grew rowdy. After reaching Netanyahu’s house, some of the protesters broke off and tried to break through barriers set up by the police, who pushed and dragged them back. At one point a bonfire was lit in the street. Police used a water cannon to disperse the demonstration.

Nine people were arrested, some for attacking police officers, according to a police statement. Many waved Israeli flags. Others carried signs criticizing Netanyahu’s handling of pivotal issues, like promoting a divisive military draft bill that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews from otherwise mandatory service, as well as his handling of the war with Hamas in Gaza and fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

“The healing process for the country of Israel, it starts here. After last week when Benny Gantz and Eisenkot left the coalition, we are continuing this process and hopefully this government will resign soon,” said protester Oren Shvill.

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