Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government held a telephone survey on Tuesday night, October 6, and voted in favor of extending anti-democratic limitations on political demonstrations, specifically aimed at preventing protests outside his Jerusalem residence on Balfour Street this weekend. The limitations were initially passed last week, with only three ministers from Blue & White opposing them. Since then, B &W’s Assaf Zamir quit his post as tourism minister.
The Black Flag protest movement reported that demonstrations of people living within a kilometer of the preplanned venue were held at more than a thousand sites across the country on Tuesday and more protests will be held on Thursday and Saturday, October 8 and 10.
“Tonight, the entire country became Balfour Street,” the Crime Minister movement said. “The Israeli people (sic) came out to street corners to deliver a message to the indicted prime minister that it is time for him to go.” Several thousand people gathered in Tel Aviv. Demonstrations were held at Habima Square, Dizengoff Street and other central city streets. In Jerusalem, protest leaders organized what they call a “Balfour Rally”, with dozens of participants running or biking across the city toward Netanyahu’s official residence at Balfour Street.
The rallies at several hundreds of sites came three days after the last protests across the country, when tens of thousands participated in small, socially-distanced rallies throughout Israel. The Black Flag movement has estimated that over 130,000 people protested throughout the country on Saturday, October 3. The figure, if accurate, would make the demonstrations collectively the largest yet held since protests gathered steam over the summer, fueled by anger at Netanyahu — who has refused to step down despite being on trial for alleged graft — and at his government’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, 65% of the Israeli public think Netanyahu is responding poorly to the COVID-19 crisis, a Channel 12 News poll released on Tuesday shows; this compared with only 31% of respondents who said they support Netanyahu’s response so far. When asked whether the government should dissolve itself and go for a fourth round of elections, 49% of respondents said that they support early elections; 30 % said that the current Knesset should continue to govern; and 21 % said they don’t know.
The survey also found that the vast majority of respondents, 76%, think Netanyahu should fire Likud Minister Gila Gamliel, after being told that Gamliel broke lockdown rules and traveled to her in-laws’ apartment in northern Israel over Yom Kippur and misled Health Ministry contact tracers on her whereabouts.