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Israeli Judge Orders Release of Anti-Netanyahu Protesters Held Since Friday

A Jerusalem Magistrate’s judge has ordered the release of three men arrested at an anti-corruption rally near the official residence of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. One of the three is Amir Haskel, a former pilot and brigadier general in the country’s air force. A leader of the so-called Black Flag movement – which has staged protests for several months over the fact that Netanyahu was allowed to form and then lead a government despite indictments in three corruption cases, one of which involves a charge of bribery – Haskel has been sitting at the site for several weeks. After sympathizers gathered there late Friday afternoon, police accused him of organizing a protest without a permit and blocking traffic. They also asked the judge to bar him from Jerusalem for two weeks, but she refused, saying it would be an infringement of free speech. At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu ignored the matter of the protest and the arrests in his opening statement before dismissing the press. Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, who insisted as a candidate that he would never sit in a government led by a man under indictment, asked that journalists be brought back so he could state that he saw the protests as a “sacred right.” Netanyahu then refuted charges that he had personally ordered the arrests.