Jerusalem, Aug 1 (efe-epa).- More than 10,000 people gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday to demand the resignation of Israel’s prime minister over his management of the country’s coronavirus crisis and his corruption trial.
It was the latest in weeks of demonstrations, which have been increasing in size across the country.
The immediate vicinity of Benjamin Netanayhu’s residence in the heart of West Jerusalem became the scene of anger, frustration and impatience, in what was perhaps the largest protest in the Holy City in recent times.
Whole families, older couples and scores of young people sang, shouted and danced, all wearing masks, in front of the watchful eyes of thousands of policemen, who mounted a major operation to prevent riots.
Many carried Israeli flags, images of the prime minister in a prison uniform, and some even LGBT pride flags.
Their messages also varied, with some more focused on the corruption trial against the prime minister, who is accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, and others on what they denounce as irresponsible management of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.
About 50 kilometers away, a parallel demonstration in Tel Aviv sang the same songs and carried the same signs: “Netanyahu home,” “Tired and frustrated,” “Shame” and “Prime minister of crime.”
Earlier, the Black Flags movement, one of the organizers of the protests, coordinated small demonstrations in hundreds of intersections from the north to south of the country, which joined the usual protest at the president’s personal residence in the coastal city of Caesarea, which 2,000 people joined on Saturday.
“We want a better future, without corruption and with justice, and we want this government to start working for the people and not for themselves,” a Jerusalem resident who attended the demonstration with his wife and his two sons told EFE.
“It is the third time that we have come. It is incredible what is happening here. I am impressed by the number of people. I think that the violence motivated people to go out, because they know that it is the last opportunity to defend our democracy,” he added.
He referred to incidents that took place during the last 10 days in which right-wing extremists attacked protesters with sticks and bottles, leaving some people injured, while dozens were arrested.
On Saturday, these extremists, mostly violent fans of the Beitar Jerusalem football club, stayed away but a group of activists from Netanyahu’s Likud party gathered a few meters from the demonstration and shouted messages in defense of the president.
There were only about 20 of them, older in age and sitting in plastic chairs meters from the crowd, separated by a fence and a police cordon. There, through a loudspeaker, they reviewed some of the prime minister’s achievements.
“We are here to defend the prime minister and democracy, because Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud won at the ballot box,” said Iris, one of the president’s defenders.
“They tried through justice, they tried in the elections and since they couldn’t win, now they are out on the street, but they won’t succeed now either.” EFE-EPA