Protesters at Tel Aviv Habima Square, March 2, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Several hundred demonstrators gathered at Tel Aviv’s Habimah Square on Saturday evening to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down.
The protest was called Thursday after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intent to indict the prime minister for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Participants, many waving Meretz-backed placards, marched the short distance from Habimah Square to Netanyahu’s Likud Party headquarters at Jabotinsky House on King George Street.
The demonstrators chanted “Corrupt, go home,” and “Only the corrupt are afraid of court.”
A protest in support of Netanyahu taking place nearby in Rabin Square attracted only a few dozen activists, who also continued to Jabotinsky House.
“Indictments have only one interpretation: the police and the State Attorney’s Office – the state institutions responsible for enforcing law and justice – are convinced that Netanyahu is a criminal who acted fraudulently, breached trust and took bribes,” organizers said, calling on the public to join the protest. “You know you deserve better, and you know that Israel is stronger than the corrupt. So now is the time to take to the streets.”
Habimah Square has been the site of almost-weekly protests against Netanyahu’s alleged corruption for more than a year now, although attendances had been decreasing prior to Saturday’s demonstration.
“Netanyahu should have opened his speech with two words: I resign,” Meretz MK Michal Rozin told demonstrators. “Instead, he again chose to incite and to beat the rule of law. A person who makes threats without fearing his prosecutors, the gatekeepers, the State Attorney’s Office, is behaving like the head of a criminal organization, not like a prime minister.”
Protest organizer and 44-year-old Tel Aviv resident Haim Shadmi, an activist in the nonprofit group New Contract, told The Jerusalem Post
that thousands of Israelis should be taking to the streets.
“The democratic part of our society is suffering from blindness and a feeling of helplessness, and also expecting that things will get better due to the actions of others,” Shadmi said. “We’re calling for change, fighting against the corruption that has flooded our country, the establishment and government for the last 10 to 20 years. We’re protesting to keep Israel democratic.”
Haifa-resident Carmel Yaari, 25, said he had come to the protest due to Mandelblit’s announcement.
“As a left-wing activist, I came to say that the corruption comes from the right-wing, and not by chance,” Yaari told the Post
. “The response will be in the elections, where the left-wing will replace the right-wing government. The public will not let the corruption continue.”
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