Dozens of people protested in Caesarea on Friday afternoon near the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for a formal investigation of the premier in a scandal surrounding a $2 billion submarine deal with Germany.
The so-called submarine affair, previously investigated by police and state prosecutors, has resulted in indictments against several close associates of Netanyahu, as well as high-ranking military officials, but not the premier himself. The affair, also known as Case 3000, revolves around allegations of a massive bribery scheme in the multi-billion-shekel state purchase of the naval vessels from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp.
Police said they arrested one of the leaders of the protest, Roey Peleg, 35, on suspicion of causing a public disturbance after the demonstrators held a short march the police said was unauthorized.
Weekly protests against Netanyahu have held firm for over six months, with protesters 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.
The largest weekly demonstrations are held on Saturday evenings in Jerusalem across from the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street.
Last week, protests were also held at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and outside Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where Netanyahu received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on live television Saturday evening, the first Israeli to be vaccinated. Smaller rallies also took place at highway overpasses and junctions around the country, as well as outside the Rosh Ha’ayin home of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Recent weeks have seen numbers at the nation-wide rallies dwindle, though Saturday’s upcoming protests may draw more people angry at a third nationwide lockdown set to begin on Sunday.
Netanyahu is also now battling for reelection, after the Knesset dissolved on Wednesday night, with the fourth elections in two years set for next March 23.