Thousands of peace activists marched and more than a dozen were arrested in demonstrations against Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government on the March 9-10 weekend. Opponents of Netanyahu and his war gathered for protests in at least 30 locations across Israel including Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Umm al-Fahem and more.

Anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv broke through a police barrier and blocked main traffic arteries while chanting about the need for immediate elections to remove the Netanyahu government. Police attacked the demonstrators, using force to disperse them.

The clash followed two separate rallies, each drawing many thousands of participants and held roughly a block apart from each other, near the Israeli army headquarters at Begin Street.

An anti-government demonstration was staged on Kaplan Street – the main site of last year’s massive protests against the far-right government. The other rally focused on the retrieval of hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 and was held at the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, as has been the case for the past 22 weeks. The space is now known as Hostages Square.

At the end of the anti-government rally, hundreds of protesters smashed the police barrier on Begin Street and continued northward while carrying torches. They blocked that road, blowing whistles and horns and calling for immediate elections before being forcefully scattered by police using water cannons. Six demonstrators were detained by security agents.

About 20,000 demonstrators came to the demonstration in Kaplan Street, including activists from the “Anti-Occupation Bloc,” a coalition opposing the Israeli military’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Thousands attended another two rallies in Jerusalem, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, and Haifa. Speakers at both protests criticized the government of Netanyahu for its war policies and its corruption.

Led by Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) and Communist Party of Israel activists, several hundred held another protest in Umm al-Fahem city against the Gaza war, demanding an immediate ceasefire. The demonstration is unprecedented because Israeli authorities have cracked down on any show of support for Gaza from Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Umm al-Fahem is the second-largest Arab community in Israel. During the first days of the war in October, police violently broke up a similar demonstration in the city, arresting at least 12 people. One of those arrested was the human rights lawyer Ahmad Khalifa, who was only released in February after 110 days in prison.

In November, the Israeli High Court enforced a ban on protests in the city, even as they allowed predominantly Jewish protests against the war elsewhere in the country. Last Saturday morning, another protest was held by Arab and Jewish women jointly at the Taybeh Junction, led by TANDI (Movement of Democratic Women in Israel) ahead of a meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Zo HaDerekh

-Zo HaDerekh (This Is The Way) is the Communist Party of Israel’s Hebrew-language newspaper.