JERUSALEM (AP) – A court in Jerusalem asked on Sunday for the release of a prominent activist who opposed the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose arrest led hundreds to protest outside the residence of the Israeli leader.
Retired Brig. General Amir Haskel was a leader of the protest movement against Netanyahu, demanding that the old leader resign while accused of fraud, breach of trust and acceptance of bribes. Haskel and several others were arrested on Friday in what the police said was an “illegal” demonstration as protesters blocked roads.
Haskel, a former Israeli Air Force General, has become a symbol of the protest movement opposing Netanyahu’s continued rule. Demonstrations have been held regularly across the country. Protesters waved signs saying “crime minister” and called on Netanyahu to resign.
“No one will stop us from protesting anywhere,” Haskel said upon his release, barbed to Netanyahu about his own brief experience in prison. “We were in Hadarim prison for 15 hours. It was not pleasant, but it was not terrible. ”
The arrests provoked angry charges from prominent Israelis and sent hundreds out to protest outside Netanyahu’s hometown on Saturday, with many disapproving of the police for saying they had made politically arrested arrests.
Police said they offered to release Haskel and others if they agreed not to return to the site of the protests. Haskel and two others refused.
Gabi Lasky, the lawyer representing Haskel, told the Israeli army radio that the court eventually released him without conditions and said protesting was the basis of democracy.
The country’s acting police chief said the police would learn a lesson from the incident.
“The role of the police is to allow everyone freedom of expression and demonstration and to preserve public peace and security, regardless of the subject of the protest, the identity of the protesters or their opinion,” Acting Commissioner Motti said. Cohen.
Netanyahu is on trial for a series of scandals in which he reportedly received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and traded regulatory favors with media magnets for tastier coverage of himself and his family. The trial will resume next month.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and calls the allegations a witch-hunt against him resulting from hostile media and a biased law enforcement system.
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