Eight protesters were arrested in Tel Aviv Saturday in a demonstration against plans for an offshore natural gas field that turned violent. Israeli police clashed with protesters, who numbered in the thousands, according to Ynetnews, an Israeli news website.
Protesters marched from Habima Square in the center of Tel Aviv through one of the city’s busiest streets, closing it down at one point. Clashes with police erupted when the marchers arrived at Menahem Begin Street, where government offices are located.
Protesters broke through barricades set up by police, and tried to block off a nearby freeway. Banners calling for social justice could be seen in the crowd of protesters, Ynetnews said. Police said the protesters failed to follow orders.
The offshore gas development plans have been stalled for about a year, the Wall Street Journal reported. Last year, an Israeli regulator ruled the proposal was anticompetitive and would create a monopoly for the two stakeholders, Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Group Ltd.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the development must go forward to lower energy costs for Israelis and give the country energy independence.
The resignation last Sunday of Economy Minister Aryeh Deri, who had refused the overrule the regulator, will help the plan move forward. Netanyahu took over his portfolio. The fields were found off Israel’s coast in 2009, and were said at the time to be able to meet Israel’s energy needs for at least 20 years.
— Israel Newswire (@inwnews) November 2, 2015
“We will not be dependent on foreign energy sources -- this is very important for the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said, according to the Wall Street Journal.