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The New Arab Staff

Anti-Netanyahu protesters pepper sprayed, stabbed by Israeli pro-government gangs: reports

Dozens of protesters have been arrested in Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 July, 2020

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Israel's public security minister has warned of 'bloodshed' as anti-government protests continue throughout Israel.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters in Israel have called on authorities to protect them following a spate of attacks on demonstrators.

Protesters have taken to Israel's streets to demand that the scandal-stricken prime minister resign, in what has become a major nationwide protest movement against the government.

The victim, a 40-year-old man, was taken to hospital for treatment.

Speaking to Israel's Ynet news, the man said:

"They attacked the protesters with kicks and punches, tore up the signs and pushed us onto the road."

In separate incidents in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, anti-Netanyahu protesters were pepper sprayed and attacked by pro-government gangs, according to local media reports.

No arrests have been made over the attacks so far. At least 55 protesters have been arrested for "public disorder and disturbances".

The violence drew criticism from Defence Minister Benny Gantz, took to Twitter to say that “the right to protest is sacred."

"Anyone who raises a hand against protesters and threatens violence needs to be severely punished," he added.

Netanyahu and his allies, meanwhile, have slammed the protesters as "anarchists", with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana warning on Sunday that the protests could lead to "bloodshed". 

Protests have been going on for the past few weeks, sparked by what critics see as a government failure to handle the coronavirus crisis after initially keeping the threat of the virus at bay. Corruption charges against Netanyahu have further fuelled the demonstrations.

After what has been called a hasty and erratic reopening of the economy in May, infections shot up with the average number of new cases daily at 2,000. The country's economy has been battered by virus restrictions and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to nearly 20 percent.

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