Protesters mass outside Netanyahu’s residence, march to Knesset

Parallel demonstrations held in Jerusalem, including against virus restrictions and PM’s handling of economic crisis

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Thousands of Israelis took part in a rally Tuesday outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, with some demonstrators railing against the government’s handling of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and others calling for the premier to resign over his indictment on graft charges.

The protest was organized by several groups, including restaurant owners angry at the repeated closures forced upon them in recent months, self-employed Israelis who say government support has been insufficient, and the so-called “black flag” anti-corruption protesters against Netanyahu.

Additionally, some demonstrators protested against proposed legislation that would allow government measures against the coronavirus to take effect without Knesset approval, saying it would remove vital oversight.

Many of the protesters marched from the Prime Minister’s Residence to the Knesset after receiving police permission.

A small number of Netanyahu supporters held a counter-demonstration nearby and police closed off several roads around the Prime Minister’s Residence due to the protests.

Hebrew-language media outlets put turnout for the rallies at some 2,000.

Israeli protesters take part in a march against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 21, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Residence, restaurateurs handed out food to passersby in protest of restrictions on eateries. Earlier Tuesday, the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee reversed a cabinet decision that would bar restaurants from serving patrons on site, limiting them to takeout and delivery.

Some 150 restaurant owners also demonstrated in Haifa against the closures forced upon them in recent months.

The restaurateurs, Jewish and Arab and from various areas of northern Israel, blocked roads and called for compensation and for the government to “resign.”

Tuesday’s protest followed several other recent demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s Residence and elsewhere, amid growing discontent with Netanyahu over his handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout caused by government lockdown measures.

A number of the rallies have seen the blocking of roads by demonstrators and clashes between police and protesters, including over the weekend in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Unemployment in Israel is at some 21 percent — or 850,000 people — and is rising, as restrictions imposed amid record daily coronavirus infections further batter the economy.

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