Largest protest yet: 10,000 gather in Jerusalem against Netanyahu

Protesters also demonstrated in Tel Aviv, in Caesarea (where the prime minister’s private residence is located) and on bridges throughout the country. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Over 10,000 (some say as many as 13,000) gathered in Paris Square in Jerusalem on Saturday night within a 10-minute walk from the prime minister’s official residence. It was the largest protest in the four weeks since Israelis have started demonstrating in the area in earnest.

Protesters also demonstrated in Tel Aviv, in Caesarea (where the prime minister’s private residence is located) and on bridges throughout the country. The Jerusalem protest was the main event, however. It was largely anti-Netanyahu in character.

The protesters carried signs like “Better to be sick in a democracy than healthy in a dictatorship,” “Failure, go home,” “Incitement begins in the halls of government,” “Bibi, quit!” and “Bibi Netanyahu – to jail for his deeds.”

Protesters flew black flags of the Black Flag movement, a radical left-wing group. It has adopted black flags as its symbol meant to signify what they perceive as a danger to democracy from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule.

The movement said after the protest that Netanyahu is “destroying the dreams that the country was built on.”

The protests were well-covered by the media. Netanyahu complained on Sunday about the nature of the coverage, saying the media was overplaying the importance of the protests.

The police allowed the demonstration to continue well past its allotted time – until 1:30 a.m. Unlike previous demonstrations, there was less violence associated with this weekend’s protest. The police did arrest 12 people who refused to leave the area or clashed with authorities. The police praised the conduct of the majority of the protesters.

A poll by Israel Hayom published on Friday found that 52 percent of the public consider the protesters violent. Forty-two percent of the public say the police are too violent.

However, the poll also found that the message of the protesters – that Netanyahu was corrupt and should be removed from power – is not shared by the majority of the public. To the question who is most fit to lead the country, Netanyahu led by a large margin – 33 percent. The runner-up, opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, came in at 13 percent, followed by right-wing leader Naftali Bennett at 12 percent and Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party at 11 percent. Ironically, it’s Gantz who is slated to become prime minister as part of a power-sharing agreement with Netanyahu.

Tel Aviv protest

Saturday night’s Tel Aviv protest, held at the Charles Klor Park, was less anti-Netanyahu in character. Organized by independent business people, it focused more on the corona restrictions that were hurting businesses. The protesters included actors, restaurant owners and business owners.

Signs at the protest included “Fighting for bread,” “War – release the money,” “Government of Israel – closed? Pay,” “It’s forbidden to leave the stage empty,” and “The nation demands economic justice.”

The protesters called for the appointment of an economics czar in order to deal with the financial aspects of the crisis. A corona czar has been appointed recently. He has said that he will do everything to avoid a lockdown.

Two thousand people attended that protest.