Hundreds turn out in Tel Aviv for weekly anti-corruption protest
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Hundreds turn out in Tel Aviv for weekly anti-corruption protest

Some 100 people stage counter-protest in favor of Netanyahu, who is facing several graft probes

Illustrative: Israelis protest against corruption, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, in Tel Aviv on February 16, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis protest against corruption, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, in Tel Aviv on February 16, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Hundreds of Israelis converged at Habima Square in central Tel Aviv on Saturday for a weekly anti-corruption protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The protesters managed to close down several streets surrounding the plaza, police said. However, the number of demonstrators was down significantly from the thousands who have turned out over recent months.

Also Saturday, roughly 100 right-wing counter protesters demonstrated across the street from Habima in support of Netanyahu, the Ynet news site reported.

In addition, some 100 Israelis protested at Goren Square near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva, calling on him to prosecute Netanyahu over a slew of graft probes against him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ponders a media question after he visited the “3000 years of history: Jews in Jerusalem” exhibit at United Nations headquarters, March 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Every Saturday night for over a year, demonstrations have been held outside Mandelblit’s home, alleging that he is stalling the probes against Netanyahu.

In April, the High Court of Justice ruled that, while the protests should not be used to exert improper pressure on public servants by harassing them in their private residences, it could not prevent the demonstrations, which are an “important and central component of any democratic society.”

Last month, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in a pair of corruption investigations, known as Cases 1000 and 2000.

He is also a suspect in the Case 4000 investigation that involves suspicions that Bezeq’s controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch ordered the Walla news site, which he owns, to grant positive coverage to the Netanyahus in exchange for the prime minister’s advancement of regulations benefiting him financially.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.

Israelis hold signs and shout slogans during a rally against corruption in government, at Zion Square in Jerusalem, on December 23, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Earlier this week, a former Netanyahu family top media adviser, Nir Hefetz, became the third former close aide to the prime minister to agree to cooperate with police.

He has reportedly promised to provide police with incriminating text messages and recordings of Netanyahu and his wife in several criminal cases, including Case 4000 and Case 1000.

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