Thousands demonstrated against Israel’s far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Caesarea and at intersections and on overpasses nationwide for the 30th consecutive week on Saturday, December 16. They demanded that the premier resign over his indictment on graft charges and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Jerusalem, several thousand protestors gathered near the Chords Bridge from where they marched to Paris Square, the central site of the major demonstrations in the city near the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Street. Smaller protests were also held outside Netanyahu’s home in the coastal town of Caesarea, in Tel Aviv along highways at more than 150 sites across the country. Protesters in Ness Ziona reported being abused physically and verbally by Netanyahu supporters in the city. Police arrived at the scene and detained a suspect who had assaulted protesters by shoving and spitting on them.
Netanyahu: “Corona Czar”/Union Buster
According to Netanyahu, his electoral success on March 23, 2021, will be a result of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In leaked footage aired Thursday, January 14, by Channel 12 News, the prime minister is seen participating in a video conference held a day earlier where he told the other participants that his political fate is linked to the current health crisis, predicting that he will win the March election because of the public’s perception of his success in tackling the pandemic with the state’s massive vaccination campaign.
Netanyahu had been meeting with representatives of a protest group representing independent business owners. Channel 12 reported that the PM feared the activists could join with his political opponents or attempt to form their own party ahead of the election. “If you really want to solve your problems, you should give me your votes,” Netanyahu said, promising to advance their demands for breaking up labor unions.
On Sunday, January 17, Israel neared the grim milestone of 4,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic. The country recorded its first coronavirus death late last March. The death toll passed 1,000 in early September, reached 2,000 by mid-October, and hit 3,000 On December 14. In the month since then, once again, the number of COVID-19 deaths in Israel is approaching 4,000.