Protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were held at sites across Israel on Thursday evening, as part of ongoing demonstrations over the premier’s indictment on graft charges and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demonstrators held marches in Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba, with the Haaretz daily putting turnout at around 200 and 300 respectively.
Protesters carried large inflatable balloons in the shape of submarines, referring to a major corruption scandal involving the purchase of naval vessels that ensnared several close associates of Netanyahu, but not the prime minister himself.
“Investigate now,” read one sign held by protesters in Tel Aviv.
Smaller rallies were also held at a number of highway overpasses and junctions around the country.
Ahead of the evening’s demonstrations, a protest group likened Netanyahu to the novel coronavirus.
“He is the virus, the protest is the vaccine,” Kumi Yisrael said in a statement slamming Netanyahu’s managing of the pandemic and accompanying economic fallout.
The statement came after a leader of the protests compared Netanyahu to Hitler during a protest Wednesday outside Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s home, drawing swift condemnation across the political spectrum.
The incident followed a separate outrage Wednesday over insults hurled at Netanyahu neighbors, the family of a fallen Israel Defense Forces soldier, by supporters of the prime minister because they had hosted a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters.
Demonstrators have been holding regular protests against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. 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.
In addition to a central protest in Jerusalem and satellite demonstrations around the country, demonstrators regularly rally outside the Netanyahu family’s private residence in Caesarea.