Tens of thousands of israelis came out on Saturday to the streets of various cities in the country to demand the resignation of the prime minister Benjamin netanyahu, deeming him unfit to govern while facing a corruption trial and accusing him of mishandling the coronavirus crisis.
Protesters gathered in hundreds of localities in Israel due to national lockdown regulations that prohibit protests at the usual site outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem. Regulations allow people to congregate no further than one kilometer from their homes.
The largest protest was held at Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, where thousands of people rang their car horns and beat drums and tambourines. The protesters waved pink and black flags representing various grassroots movements.
The police reported crashes with the protesters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Netanyahu is on trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, and protesters have gathered weekly to demand his resignation for the past four months. Netanyahu rejects the charges and says the protesters are “leftists” and “anarchists.”
The marches also have been motivated by the response from the government to the pandemic. After apparently controlling the outbreak in the spring with strict lockdown, Israel revived its economy prematurely and the infection rate skyrocketed. The country of 9 million people has one of the highest infection rates in the developed world, with its death toll approaching 2,000.
Faced with historic levels of contagion, Israel imposed another lockdown last month, further affecting business owners and entrepreneurs who have been a crucial element in the protests. The economy has been devastated by the closures, and many of the protesters are young Israelis who have lost their jobs due to the crisis.