Thousands of protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem Saturday night for the 30th week of demonstrations against the premier over his indictment on graft charges and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A group of demonstrators marched from the Chords Bridge at the main entrance to the city down Jaffa Street on their way to Paris Square, adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Smaller protests were also held outside Netanyahu’s home in the coastal town of Caesarea and at highway overpasses and junctions across the country.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) January 16, 2021
As Israel continues its massive vaccination campaign against coronavirus, in Caesarea demonstrators rallied under the tagline “Inoculation needed for corruption.”
Demonstrators have been holding regular protests for months against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. They have also criticized his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and claims the indictments are part of an effort by political rivals, the media, police and prosecutors to remove him from office.
On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice heard a petition against controversial legislation granting the government emergency powers to limit protests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law was approved in September amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus “cases”. It forbade Israelis from traveling more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from home to protest and required protesters to demonstrate in socially distanced capsules, effectively stifling mass rallies outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, the epicenter of an ongoing popular effort against the premier over his indictment on graft charges and handling of the pandemic.
A petition was filed against the legislation and in October the High Court ordered the government to explain why the law shouldn’t be thrown out.
After the law was passed, Netanyahu said the restrictions were driven by safety concerns as the country battled a runaway pandemic, but critics and protesters accused him of tightening the lockdown to muzzle dissent.
However, the protest ban appeared to have only further motivated demonstrators, with tens of thousands rallying in socially distanced protests throughout the country while it was in effect.
The government didn’t reimpose the ban as part of renewed lockdown measures currently in force.