Israeli anti-government protesters rally in Jerusalem

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

Netanyahu now heads one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel’s history after a wartime unity government disbanded last week when two centrist former generals, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, resigned. Netanyahu is now reliant on ultra-Orthodox and far-right partners, whose hardline agenda had already caused significant divisions in Israeli society before Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack triggered the war in Gaza.

The often weekly demonstrations have yet to shift the political landscape, and Netanyahu still maintains a stable majority in parliament. Following the departures of Gantz and Eisenkot, opposition groups announced a week of street protests that include blocking highways and staging mass demonstrations.

By sundown, thousands had gathered outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, before marching to Netanyahu’s private residence in the city. The demonstration grew unruly, and after reaching Netanyahu’s house, some protesters attempted to breach police barriers. Police pushed and dragged them back, and at one point, a bonfire was lit in the street. Authorities used a water cannon to disperse the crowd.

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

“The healing process for the country of Israel 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.