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Crowds block Tel Aviv’s main artery in anti-government protest

<i>Ilia Yefimovich/picture-alliance/dpa/AP</i><br/>Israeli demonstrators hold flags and burn flares as they block the Ayalon highway.
Ilia Yefimovich/picture-alliance/dpa/AP
Israeli demonstrators hold flags and burn flares as they block the Ayalon highway.

By Amir Tal, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN) — Large crowds blocked Tel Aviv’s main highway, and roads in other Israeli cities, in response to the resignation of the city’s police chief.

Ami Eshed announced his resignation from the police force late Wednesday after being sidelined by Israel’s far right national security minister, the outgoing police chief said in a live television broadcast.

Itamar Ben Gvir demoted Eshed in March after accusing him of being political in his conduct while serving as a senior police officer. The demotion was quickly put on hold following public criticism.

Eshed said he would not “cooperate with this artificial” appointment and would not “accept my political removal from my role as chief of Tel Aviv police.”

During Israel’s ongoing weekly anti-judicial overhaul protests, Ben Gvir claimed Eshed was lenient with protesters, allowing them to paralyze Tel Aviv’s downtown for hours over the past half year.

As he announced his resignation, Eshed responded to Ben Gvir, saying “I could have easily met the expectations, I could have exerted unreasonable force, and I could have filled the emergency ward of Tel Aviv’s [main] hospital …….at the terrible cost of breaking skulls and bones”, stating he avoided bloodshed with his actions.

Attempts by the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to pass a contentious judicial reform bill sparked some of the largest protests the country has seen in the past few months.

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