Tens of thousands, 50,000 according to organizers, gathered to protest on Saturday night, December 2, in Tel Aviv against government corruption and new legislation that critics say is intended to shield Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from criminal investigations.
The “March of Shame” was organized in response to a bill that, if passed by the Knesset, will prevent Israel’s police from making public their recommendation to indict a suspect following an investigation. The bill was passed in its first reading last week and will come up for its second of three readings on Monday, December 4.
The protesters marched along Rothschild Boulevard to the Habima Square and chanted slogans for Netanyahu to be tried and imprisoned, along with others associating government corruption with capitalism, big business and the underworld. Tel Aviv’s iconic Rothschild Boulevard was closed to traffic in both directions. Hundreds of protesters gathered in another 12 demonstration from Rosh Pina in the north to Beer-Sheva in the South.
Meni Naftali, a former chief caretaker at the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence, who won a civil suit against the Prime Minister’s Office for violation of his employee rights and has since become a leader in the protest movement against Netanyahu, addressed the crowd. Naftali added that the weekly demonstrations that until now had been held near the Attorney General’s home in Petah Tikva had been useless and so they would now be held in Tel Aviv.
Among the demonstrators were Hadash activists with signs against the far-right government, and MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List). “The public in its masses has made its voice heard tonight. The protest and the frustration have come from the bottom. This frustration is due the public’s revulsion from corruption and a serious moral objection to a law tailor-made for one person,” Khenin said.
The contentious bill, dubbed the “Recommendations Law,” passed its first reading last week. It states that in cases of investigations against public figures, including investigations already underway when the law will be enacted, the police will not be permitted to make public their recommendations or pass them on to the attorney general, who may still ask for them. The bill passed in its first reading by a vote of 46 to 36.
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