Corruption charges against the hardline prime minister, and the handling of coronavirus, have fuelled more protests in Israel.

Israeli protests have continued to increase in size and intensity against the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

This time around, more young protesters appear to have joined demonstrations as distaste for Netanyahu government’s handling of coronavirus, and anger towards its corruption charges brew across Israel. 

In order to deal with the growing protests, which sometimes become violent as demonstrators clash with Israeli police, the Netanyahu government has recently resorted to arrests.

On Tuesday, when thousands of protesters gathered in front of Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, the police arrested 34 people over alleged violent behaviour. 

As some of the protesters held the placard, which said "Put your face masks on, there is a virus in Balfour", others waved pictures of an imprisoned Netanyahu behind the bars.

Balfour refers to the street in Jerusalem, where Netanyahu’s official residence is located. 

Restaurateurs also joined recent rallies on the grounds that coronavirus measures have killed their lifetime earnings.  

Ofer Cassif, a Jewish parliamentarian from the Arab-dominated Joint List coalition, also joined protests, greeting other participants as “heroes” and “the light that illuminates the darkness we are in." 

"Not everyone has the same political positions, but we are united in one thing: We must all fight together for a democratic Israel," Cassif told protesters.  

Worsening economic conditions under Netanyahu have appeared to particularly agitate the Israeli youth, which has begun worrying about life prospects as unemployment rises across the country. They have been on the streets to demand more care from the government.

Police detain a protester during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government's response to the financial fallout of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020.
Police detain a protester during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government's response to the financial fallout of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

“This was a generation that up until a few months ago saw open doors everywhere. They had their pick of employment and educational opportunities, and they were free to travel around the world,” said Roby Nathanson, director of the Tel Aviv-based Macro Center for Political Economics. 

“When the pandemic struck, all this blew up in their faces, and they understood that they’re going to have to pay a heavy price for what’s going on,” Nathanson analysed. 

Israel’s bizarre government

Palestinians have been long punished for being native residents of Palestine by Israel’s Zionist regime, but now the country’s youth appears to be penalised by the growing economic difficulties and an inefficient coalition government. 

The bizarre shape of Israel’s new government has also upset Israelis as the two rivals, Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, have suddenly decided to form a coalition after three inconclusive elections. 

Gantz, a former top general, has previously campaigned against Netanyahu on the grounds that Israel can not get along with a leader who has been dogged by multiple corruption charges. 

Gantz also declared that he would not participate in a coalition government as long as Netanyahu was its prime minister. 

But Gantz agreed to form a government with Netanyahu in April. In this government, Netanyahu will hold the premiership for 18 months as Gantz becomes defense minister.

His move angered many of his supporters who were fed up with Netanyahu, while it disappointed others who were hoping that an energetic former general could oust Bibi. 

“It makes me feel terrible. It’s exactly what I did not want to happen, to see Gantz actually partner with Netanyahu,” said Tami Golan, a 46-year-old persistent Gantz voter.

“I understand the coronavirus makes for a special situation, but I can’t help but feel disappointed - we might not be done with Netanyahu,” Golan said.

Source: TRT World