Thousands of Israelis took to the streets again on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of corruption. They accuse him in particular of mismanagement of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstrations took place in several regions of the country, at crossroads or on bridges. Protesters wearing protective masks carried placards accusing Mr. Netanyahu of “failure.”
In Tel Aviv, hundreds of demonstrators protested unemployment and the lack of government assistance, according to local media. A crowd also gathered outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, where organizers reported thousands of people calling on Netanyahu to resign. Israelis also demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s private residence in the western coastal city of Caesarea.
Protesters, overwhelmingly wearing protective masks, accuse Mr. Netanyahu of corruption and failing to contain the Covid-19 epidemic and resolve the economic crisis. Israel is suffering a second wave of contaminations and the unemployment rate has exceeded 20% in recent months against 3.4% in February.
For many weeks, protesters have been shouting their fed up against Mr. Netanyahu, indicted in November 2019 for corruption, fraud and breach of trust in three cases, a first for an Israeli head of government during his term in office.
Israel initially bragged about its handling of the pandemic, with a relatively low number of sick cases. But as the deconfinement, decided at the end of April to get the economy back on track, cases of infection have multiplied, forcing the government to impose new restrictions. The country of nine million inhabitants has officially recorded more than 72,000 cases of contamination so far, including 523 deaths.
Faced with mounting anger, Mr. Netanyahu, in power continuously since 2009, accused Israeli TV channels 12 and 13 on Saturday of “spreading propaganda to leftist anarchist protesters”, widely covering their rallies. “They are desperately trying to poison the public, in order to bring down a strong right-wing prime minister,” Netanyahu’s party Likud said in a tweet, retweeted by Netanyahu.
The prime minister also accused “the media of ignoring the violent nature of the protests and calls to kill the prime minister and his family”.