Thousands of protesters flocked the streets near the official residence of Prime Minister Netanyahu in central Jerusalem on Saturday night. The Israelis have taken to the streets to call on Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country's coronavirus crisis. The protesters are also saying that he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges. On Saturday, self-employed workers whose businesses have been hurt by the economic crisis also joined the march.
Here we go again: back at Balfour with thousands of protestors demonstrating against the Netanyahu-led government. Parallel protests taking place simultaneously in Rosh Pina, Caesarea, Mitzpe Ramon, Nazareth and Jadeidi-Makr as well as on bridges throughout the country. pic.twitter.com/6H7HnwbFTD— Ben Reiff (@ben_reiff) August 8, 2020
In Jerusalem on Saturday, protesters held Israeli flags, blew horns and chanted slogans against Netanyahu. Some held posters that said “Crime Minister” or called him “out of touch.” A large banner projected onto a nearby building said “Balfour is in our hands,” a reference to the street where Netanyahu lives.
The demonstrators accuse Netanyahu of corruption and say that he and the country’s bloated coalition government have failed to recognize the suffering of its citizens.
Balfour Street now, in front of Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem. https://t.co/PxgK0YbKog— Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין (@MairavZ) August 8, 2020
Israeli media estimated some 15,000 people at the Jerusalem demonstration. An estimated 1,000 also protested at an intersection near Netanyahu’s beach house in the upscale coastal town of Caesaria, and smaller gatherings took place on bridges and at intersections across the country.
There was a heavy police presence at the demonstrations but no reports of violence in the loud but orderly protests, according to Associated Press.
The rallies against Netanyahu are the largest Israel has seen since 2011 protests over the country’s high cost of living.
After moving quickly to contain the virus last spring, many believe Israel reopened its economy too quickly, leading to a surge in cases. The country is now coping with record levels of coronavirus, while unemployment has surged to over 20%.
Beaucoup beaucoup de monde à Balfour pic.twitter.com/mNt6moF6F0— Charles Enderlin (@Charles1045) August 8, 2020
Many of the demonstrators, including many young unemployed Israelis, accuse Netanyahu of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and the economic damage it has caused.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party announced that Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting had been called off because of disagreements with the chief coalition partner, the rival Blue and White Party. The sides have been feuding over the country’s national budget, and if they cannot reach a deal by late this month, Israel would be plunged into an early election.