Despite lockdown, thousands of Israelis take to streets against Netanyahu

By Pablo Duer

Jerusalem, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Israelis took to the streets Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the latest of the weekly protests that have been taking place for more than four months and which continue despite the lockdown in force since the end of last week.

From morning until late in the afternoon, a confined Israel heard nothing but the sound of the shofar, the ram’s horn with which the faithful announce Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).

With the passing of the hours, however, that sound gave way to a similar one on the way to becoming a tradition in the country: the noise of the horns blasted during the anti-Netanyahu protests.

The protesters, who are allowed to go out to protest despite the lockdown, also carried the now classic black flags, other Israeli flags and placards with messages against the prime minister.

Due to the Rosh Hashanah celebrations, which coincided with the beginning of a new lockdown to stop the second wave of the epidemic, the usual Saturday protests took place on Sunday, and included young people, older adults and entire families, which were seen in various parts of the country.

Most of the protesters, as is often the case, gathered in front of Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.

While the figures did not reach the 10,000 or 20,000 as in previous weeks, there were several thousand who took part Sunday, passing through a ghost town without cars or people on the streets and chanting slogans such as: “Netanyahu go home,” “What a corrupt government” and “1,000, 2,000, 4,000,” names of the corruption cases facing the president, accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

Despite the police’s announcement of new regulations for the protests during confinement, including dividing the congregation into groups of up to 20 people, Sunday’s protests in Jerusalem were carried out normally, without separation of the protesters, who wore masks.

“He is taking the country hostage. He is locking us at home and we are protesting because of that, because no one will lock us up while [he’s] trying to escape a trial,” Nir, one of the protesters, told EFE of the prime minister’s motivation to apply the current total lockdown.

“The problem is that we have a leader who is taking care of his personal issues and his political maneuvers instead of protecting the lives of his citizens,” said Hernán, also an activist and who, although he believes that the current lockdown is “necessary,” said that “if this situation has been reached, it is due to government negligence.”

Israel, which registered about 3,800 new cases of coronavirus Saturday, has one of the highest fatality rates in the world and has been in a total confinement for three days. This will last at least three weeks and could be extended if infections are not reduced.

During this period, citizens cannot travel more than 1 kilometer from their home (with exceptions) and bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, shopping centers and non-essential shops remain closed, among other restrictions. EFE-EPA


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