netanyahu mt of olives 248 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu began election day under a torn basketball hoop in the small gym of a Jerusalem elementary school and hoped to end it on the stage of a large Tel Aviv auditorium as the most likely candidate for prime minister.
As his first step on the day of decision, which he went into with a small lead in the polls, he entered the Jerusalem gym from a side door with his wife Sarah to cast their votes.
The masking tape markings on the floor had been worn down to nothing in some places, and hand-painted pictures by children graced the white walls.
Netanyahu wore a suit and entered the room with his arm around Sarah. Each walked out of the voting booth with the sealed envelope and then paused for a moment over the ballot box so the cameras could catch them casting their vote.
One reporter called out to Netanyahu, "who are you voting for?"
"Guess," Netanyahu said with a wry smile, as he dropped his envelope into the blue box.
"I feel good," the Likud leader told reporters, as he noted that this was the same auditorium where his son had graduated from elementary school.
"This is the day when we will worry about everyone's children," he said.
This election, he said, is about those who want change and those who don't.
"The people want change, and today they will choose change," he said. Those who want to go in the path of security, hope and change will vote for the Likud, he said, as he urged everyone to vote.
He then headed down south for the final leg of his campaign, visiting Beersheba, Netivot, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, all of which had suffered Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.
During the brief visits he presented himself as the clear choice for those who wanted to live without the threat of rockets in a strong and secure Israel.
Sporadic rain drenched the campaign signs and in Ashdod strong winds felled a street light, but Netanyahu spoke warmly of the resilience of the southern residents who had continued with their lives even amidst rocket attacks.
In Sderot, he told supporters that they had become a symbol of the failure of the current Kadima-led government, which had failed to stop the rockets. "I promise to remove the threat of rockets from this city, which has become a symbol of the fight against terror," he said.
"Who is going to deal both with the economy and with the threat from Iran and Hamastan [Gaza]?" he asked in Beersheba. "There is only one address and you know what it is."