Thousands attend rally demanding probe into spyware scandal

Protest in Tel Aviv calling for a state commission of inquiry into the police espionage case attracted a large crowd, but former PM, who promoted the event, was a no-show.

By World Israel News Staff

Thousands attended a right-wing demonstration at Habima Square in Tel Aviv Thursday evening, calling for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the use of Pegasus software in the Israel Police and the State Attorney’s Office.

Among those present were lawmakers from opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Religious Zionism party. But the former prime minister, who urged his followers to attend, was notably absent.

Rapper and right-wing activist Yoav Eliassi, known as ‘The Shadow’, addressed the crowd, slamming what he described as the “hypocrisy of the Left in Tel Aviv,” Channel 14 reported.

“I live not far from here,” he said, noting that until four months ago, his neighbors had signs on their property calling for democracy.

“Suddenly silence. No one has a sign on the porch. Where are they now?”

Likud MK Ophir Akunis praised the crowd and the “beautiful blue and white flags in the center of Tel Aviv.”

“Millions who voted for Netanyahu as prime minister demand a state commission of inquiry and not a smear commission,” he said.

Addressing police and prosecutors, he asked, “Why are you afraid of a state commission of inquiry? This is our demand.”

Akunis also attacked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who, despite having garnered a mere seven seats in the last election, was crowned prime minister thanks to Israeli political wheeling and dealing.

Netanyahu had the most seats – 30 – but couldn’t quite manage to get the required 60 necessary to form a coalition. Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party came in next, with 17. Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, now foreign minister, had offered Bennett a rotational premiership.

The coalition has the bare minimum number of seats. Bennett appears to be ignoring his voters’ right-wing ideology, instead walking a tightrope in order to maintain power and prevent the government, which includes the far-left Meretz party and the Islamist Ra’am, from collapsing.

“We will go to another demonstration, and to another square, and to another protest, this is our right as a democracy. The government does not understand democracy, a series of dangerous laws, to take power by a six-member minority faction,” Akunis said.

“There are thousands of people here who care about the country, which today is much less democratic than ever,” said Likud MK Miki Zohar, according to Channel 14..

“When we were in power, they told us ‘you are not democrats’ And today we see that they [Bennett-Lapid government] are harming every democratic part of the State of Israel in that the police infiltrated people’s phones and in particular Netanyahu’s associates, to oust him…

“We will not remain silent until an objective commission of inquiry through the coalition is established We will not accept in any constellation a situation in which they will try to bury this huge story,” Zohar said.

“Netanyahu is the right and the right is Netanyahu. Look at the State of Israel today and look at where it was in 12 years when Netanyahu led, and you will see the huge difference.”

“We are united!” said Likud MK Yariv Levin, slamming the Left for “whitewashing the threats and espionage and the wiretapping.”

Religious Zionism Ben Gvir, who has been clashing with police and government officials in recent days, affirmed: “I will return to Shimon Hatzadik [Sheikh Jarrah] from here,” referring to the flashpoint Jerusalem area widely known as Sheikh Jarrah where he set up shop to protect Jewish residents from their hostile Arab neighbors.

“I heard that Naftali Bennett said that they would not let me go back there,” he said. “We will not give up Jerusalem, we will not give up a Jewish state, we will not give up democracy.”