Thousands of Israelis gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Saturday as anger mounted over allegations of corruption and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
“Your time is up,” read giant letters projected on a building at the protest site, as protesters waved Israeli flags and called on Netanyahu to resign over what they say is his failure to protect jobs and assets. companies affected by the pandemic.
The protest movement has intensified in recent weeks, with critics accusing Netanyahu of being distracted by a corruption case against him. He denies wrongdoing.
Netanyahu, who was sworn in to a fifth term in May after a hotly contested election, accused protesters of trampling on democracy and the Israeli media of encouraging dissent.
Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party on Saturday called the protests a “leftist riots” and accused Israel’s Popular News Channel 12 of “doing everything in its power to encourage protests by ‘extreme left’ of opponents of the Prime Minister.
“Netanyahu is fighting to bring the Israeli economy back to normal and to transfer funds and subsidies to Israeli citizens,” Likud said in a statement posted on Netanyahu’s Twitter page.
The protests have spread beyond Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, with many Israelis gathering on bridges and at road junctions across the country.
On a busy highway viaduct north of Israel’s Tel Aviv Mall, protesters waved black flags and chanted slogans as cars honked from the road below.
A protester, Yael, said she lost her job at a restaurant in Tel Aviv and government help was slow in arriving.
“You would think that a single crisis like this would push Netanyahu to act, and it doesn’t. Enough is enough,” she said, declining to give her last name.
Israel lifted a partial lockdown in May that flattened an infection curve. But a second wave of COVID-19 cases and the resulting restrictions saw Netanyahu’s approval rate drop to less than 30 percent.
Many restrictions have since been lifted to revive business activity, but unemployment hovers at 21.5% and the economy is expected to contract 6% in 2020.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)