Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday evening to protest multiple issues, from the coalition deal struck between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz to working hours for trainee doctors and the lack of childcare during the pandemic.
Around 3,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, calling for an end to 26-hour-long shifts and an improvement in working conditions for trainee doctors.
Medical interns recently began working 12-hour-shifts to try to reduce the country’s contagion during the coronavirus pandemic and were protesting moves to reinstate the longer working hours, saying the conditions were unreasonable and exhausted doctors could pose a danger to patients.
A doctor, who gave his name only as Stas, told the Kan public broadcaster that the long hours meant they could not properly care for patients.
“We are protesting the number of hours in a row that we have to work — it’s inhumane and we can’t care for people in the proper way,” he said.
Additionally, hundreds attended a protest organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Tel Aviv’s iconic Rabin Square after the High Court of Justice ruled this week that were no grounds to disqualify Netanyahu from forming a government despite the graft charges against him. The court also declined to strike down legislative changes being made as part of the Netanyahu-Gantz power-sharing agreement, while admitting there were “significant difficulties.”
Under Israeli law, a sitting prime minister does not have to resign if indicted, unlike other ministers, though opponents had sought to have Netanyahu disqualified from even being tasked with forming a government, which they argued was not the same.
Dozens of protesters also demonstrated outside the Tel Aviv homes of Blue and White MKs Miki Haimovich and Asaf Zamir over their decision to stick with their party as it was set to join the government.
“You turned your back on us and sold your soul to the devil in favor of a criminal defendant,” said one protester outside Haimovich’s home, according to the Ynet news site. Other demonstrators accused her of “stealing votes” by joining the coalition.
The protesters were from the grassroots “Black Flag” movement, which opposes the coalition agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz. The organization announced it would hold 10 protests around the country on Saturday evening, including outside Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin.
Zamir on Saturday defended his party’s decision, saying it would give a voice to people who would otherwise not be represented.
“The fact that most Israeli citizens will feel represented at the decision-making table is very important when it comes to making cuts, when they make reforms and when they make difficult decisions,” he told Channel 13 news.
There was also a protest outside the home of Welfare Minister Ofir Akunis by parents of children in government supervised daycares. The childcare centers are set to open Sunday, but reduced class sizes due to the coronavirus pandemic mean that not all children will be able to attend, leaving many parents unable to work.
In addition, a group of young people and small business owners, including restaurateurs, protested at Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore park, saying that they haven’t seen any economic benefit in the recent loosening of regulations and still haven’t received help from the government.
“The contract between the young people and the state was violated. We were fired – we did not count, the economy opened – we did not count,” organizers told Channel 12 news.