Thousands of Israelis have joined a protest in occupied Jerusalem, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down as he is on trial over corruption charges and amid anger over his cabinet’s mishandling of economy and a coronavirus outbreak.
The protesters gathered in front of Netanyahu’s official residence on Balfour Street on Tuesday evening, waving black flags, which they say symbolize the “death of democracy” during the tenure of the chairman of the Likud political party as the regime’s leader.
Many held posters that said “You are detached. We are fed up,” or there is “no way” a politician under indictment can be prime minister.
The demonstrators also blew horns, chanted slogans, and threw water bottles at the police, Other placards read “Netanyahu’s corruption makes us sick” and “Netanyahu, resign.”
The anti-corruption activists at some point tried to storm the residence but were dragged away by police officers, resulting in scuffles.
As the protest ended, hundreds moved downtown, where they blocked the light rail system, chanting “shame, shame” and “Bibi, go home.”
Police then used water cannons against the demonstrators and officers mounted on horses attempted to disperse the crowd, sending protesters scattering to the side of the streets before they regrouped.
An unnamed Israeli police’s spokesperson said one officer had been lightly wounded and 50 protesters arrested in the scuffles.
Demonstrator Elhanan Marks said that “every morning, I read the paper and it feels like a slap in the face. It’s time for a change, but still no one’s listening.”
Another protester, who declined to be named, said the incumbent Israeli administration’s poor response to the numerous crises in the occupied territories prompted her to attend the demonstration.
“The most deadly virus is not COVID-19, but corruption,” protester Laurent Cige, who came from Tel Aviv to take part, told AFP news agency.
At the same time as the demonstration in Jerusalem, hundreds of demonstrators also gathered near Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to mark nine nears since the start of social justice protests in the summer of 2011.