Police have been enforcing protest restrictions despite despite the fact that the clause allowing for such enforcement was not passed on Friday, N12 reported Saturday afternoon.
In a dispatch call cited by N12, police told civilians that all protests are restricted to a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) radius outside of one’s place of residence. When asked about the bill a dispatcher reportedly answered “this is what we were told to say.”
A resident of Ramat Hasharon reportedly received a NIS 500 ($144) fine after being stopped at a police checkpoint while on his way to Jerusalem. While a protest is expected outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Balfour Street at 8:00 p.m., the person was allegedly fined for heading to the city in the early afternoon.
Large convoys of anti-government Black Flags Movement protesters and other demonstrators began heading toward Jerusalem in the afternoon, with the movement demanding that police take down checkpoints, letting the cars enter the city despite the lockdown.
“The officers at the checkpoints have been ordered to allow the access of all people to the protest, as police prepare for them to be held within the boundaries of the law,” Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit said.
“Unfortunately, multiple drivers have used the regulations in order to sabotage the enforcement efforts, conducting [intercity] movement for reasons not recognized as essential, forcing the officers to examine the situation and use discretion where it proves necessary.”
According to police, “individual cases of misjudgment have been addressed and the policy has been clarified respectively.”
On Thursday, a day before the vote on the lockdown bill, Israel Police Operational Department Head Yishai Shalem said police would “focus the enforcement inside the cities, primarily in order to disperse illegal gatherings.”
Police “will take care of protests and demonstrations that do not have the goal of an actual protest but rather provoking law enforcement, such as demonstrations held on the beach or those preceded by comments from the protesters’ side.”
According to Shalem, “we will show no tolerance to such things. In addition to that, smoking is prohibited in the vicinity of the protests as it requires one take off his or her mask, and that will be dealt with harshly.”
Police said Thursday they will adhere to regulations approved by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, limiting the number of protesters allowed on Balfour Street up to 2,000 people, examining possibly dispersing larger gatherings.
As of late Saturday afternoon, at least 2,500 people have said they would attend the demonstration on the protest movement’s Facebook page, with at least 70,000 attending a “virtual protest” in support of the Balfour demonstrators.
The Lockdown Bill clause restricting protests was not passed Friday following a filibuster, as Joint List MK Offer Cassif introduced over 3,000 amendments to the bill. Israeli media site Walla News reported Netanyahu sought to curb the protests using emergency regulations.