Israel is in the midst of country-wide anti-government protests since the last few weeks. The citizens staged massive demonstrations in multiple areas across the nation, brandishing their discontent against the government’s inept handling of the growing coronavirus epidemic, economic inflation, surge in employment rates, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged corruption cases.
In Jerusalem, thousands of people from all sectors – self-employed, small business owners, social workers, teachers – protested outside PM Netanyahu’s official residence. They marched from his residence to the Knesset, beating drums, banging pots and blaring trumpets, while calling for PM Netanyahu to resign. The police dragged the protestors out of the streets and eventually fired water cannons to disperse the crowd. Twelve people have been arrested or detained for “various offenses included disturbing public order or attacking other protesters,” the police said.
Police used tear gas during the clash at members of the “Black Flag” and a hundred others gathered for a beach rally in Israel’s commercial hub – Tel Aviv, in PM Netanyahu’s private beach house in Caesarea, at junctions, highways and at other spots slamming the government for pushing the country on the verge of an economic fall, demanding better aid for the loss-stricken businesses. They carried signs that read “We’re saving democracy, we’re fighting corruption” and “No to dictatorship under cover of corona!”
The “Black Flag” movement – a symbol of protest, said in a statement – “The images we are seeing across the country are the result of a non-functioning government. The country’s citizens deserve a functioning prime minister who is solely focused on the problems of the people instead of survival. When there’s no leadership, it is the job of the citizens to lead”.
PM Netanyahu addressed the growing demonstrations in the country in a press-service, he warned the protestors: “Do not drag the country into anarchy, violence, vandalism”. His public image notices a serious plummet as he is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals. Netanyahu denies all the allegations, claiming opponents and political rivals have falsified these accusations in his name to tarnish his reputation.
Israel is also suffering from the second wave of Covid-19. PM Netanyahu was applauded for the successful abolition of coronavirus. He imposed a nation-wide lockdown in early February by sealing boundaries and shutting schools and commercial sectors. However, the reckless decision to lift restrictions caused the infections to skyrocket more than ever before. Many public experts say, “the government had moved too fast while neglecting to take the necessary epidemiological steps to control the pandemic once the economy reopened”.
Small businesses and self-employed workers bore huge losses during the lockdown. Unemployment rates spiked from 4 percent to 25 percent by late April. “The government has failed to provide long-term solutions or even medium-term solutions. There is no planning, there is no transparency,” wrote Director of the Institute for National Security Studies, Amos Yadlin. Netanyahu’s multi-billion-dollar aid relief to uplift the financial condition was criticized to be insufficient and misguided.
A poll by Channel 13 said that 75 percent of the respondents were unsatisfied by the government’s economic response to the pandemic. According to the Israel Democracy Institute think tank, 57.5 percent of the public supported Netanyahu’s coronavirus management in early April. That number plunged to 29.5 percent in July.
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