Several hundred people marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Thursday as part of the weekly demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to resign due to his corruption trial and his handling of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Some of those who joined in the march reportedly arrived from an event to mark 25 years since the assassination of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was killed by extremist gunman Yigal Amir at the end of a rally in Tel Aviv in 1995. Due to restrictions because of virus spread, there was no memorial ceremony held in Rabin Square where the shooting took place, as in previous years. Instead, 25,000 memorial candles were lit at the site.
There were similar, smaller anti-Netanyahu rallies held at various locations around the country.
Protest organizers said it was the 19th week in a row that rallies have been held.
In Holon, Dozens of anti-government protesters gathered at the Mediatheque cultural center, and though there was a counterprotest by a handful of Netanyahu supporters, there were no clashes between the two sides as there have been on previous occasions, Haartez reported.
Some of the protesters supporting Netanyahu reportedly wore shirts with the slogan “Leftists are traitors” on them.
The labeling of political opponents as “traitors” carries particular significance in Israeli culture due to its association with the Rabin assassination.
Netanyahu has long been accused of playing a part in the incitement against Rabin prior to his death. The premier has regularly rebuffed the allegations and has characterized them as a form of “political assassination.”
In the weeks before the Rabin assassination, Netanyahu, then head of the opposition, and other senior members of his Likud party, attended a right-wing political rally in Jerusalem where protesters branded Rabin a “traitor,” “murderer” and “Nazi” for signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians earlier that year.
At an official memorial ceremony of Rabin held at the Knesset earlier Thursday, Netanyahu said recent threats to his own life and to his family were being ignored.
“Twenty-five years after the murder of Rabin, there is incitement to assassinate the prime minister and his family, and almost nobody says anything,” Netanyahu said, to jeers from some listening lawmakers.
The premier, who is facing steady pressure from the weekly protesters over criminal cases against him, did not specify what threats were being leveled against him. Police have investigated a number of threats made against Netanyahu and his family on social media, but it is unclear whether law enforcement officials considered any of them credible.
Netanyahu and his supporters have more recently also been accused of incitement against the anti-government protesters. There have been several incidents of violent assaults, and in some cases injuries, by Netanyahu supporters against the protestors.
Amir shot Rabin to death on November 4, 1995, at the end of an event in Tel Aviv called to highlight opposition to violence and to showcase public support for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.