The weekly demonstration of left-wing activists began at King George Street, near Dizengoff Center, and continued in a march on the road toward Nahalat Binyamin, with the protestors blocking the road for traffic.
In spite of the arrangement reached with the police, according to which only 1,500 protestors would take part in the march, twice the number of protestors arrived at the place, and it was anyway okayed by the police.
Police officers vs. demonstrators (Photo: Avi Cohen)
After a one-hour march, the protestors arrived at Allenby Street. They evacuated the road, continued toward the Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall, and traffic continued to flow. At a certain stage, the police said, dozens of anarchist activists, along with several left-wing protestors, began walking on the road again and blocking traffic.
According to the police, officers attempted to prevent the disruption to the traffic, and in response the protestors began going wild, throwing objects, sticks, eggs and bags containing excrement at the police.
The police arrested two protestors, and the demonstration continued quietly in Nahalat Binyamin.
Yonatan Pollak, an activists of the Anarchists Against The Fence movement, who took part in the demonstration, claimed that no bags containing excrement were thrown at the police and that the organization's activists did not go wild.
"There was no unruliness, apart from the unruliness on the part of the police, who were eager to fight with the demonstrators," he said.
Former Knesset Member Yael Dayan, who spoke at the demonstration, was applauded when she said that "the soldiers must be returned from Lebanon immediately." However, the crowd booed when she claimed that "the war was justified at its onset."
Hadash MK: War will not end in a military victory
Among the speakers at the demonstration was also Zohar Milgrom, an reserve soldier who was called by the army and told the crowd that he plans to announce his refusal to serve in Lebanon: "Under no circumstances am I ready to be a partner in the war crimes that the country is committing. The demonstration gives me and my friends a feeling that they still have something to belong to in this country."
Dr. Gadi Algazi of Tel Aviv University said that "this war is being committed on the back of the most poor, both in Israel and in Lebanon. Those who cannot escape are paying the heaviest price in this war."
Another speaker was Shaul Feldman, whose house in Haifa was destroyed after being hit by a rocket last week. Feldman told the crowd that on the first day of the war he took part in a demonstration against it, and the fact that a rocket fell on his house did not cause him to change his mind.
"I don’t think this is a war that should be supported," he said.
Knesset Member Dov Khenin (Hadash) congratulated the demonstration participants, saying that "a demonstration attended by thousands expressed the broadening of the front against the war."
"Citizens who supported the wart understand today that the war will not end in a military victory. Therefore, we must immediately cease the fire and begin negotiations to release prisoners on both sides," Khenin said.
The weekly left-wing demonstrations began about a month and a half ago, when Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and the IDF began striking in Gaza. At first they took place opposite the home of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. This is the first time the police were forced to intervene and exert power.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the report