Protests held throughout Israel against Netanyahu for 21st straight week

Numbers appear to be down relative to previous weeks, with demonstrators rallying in Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Nahariya and elsewhere

People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on November 7, 2020 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
People protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on November 7, 2020 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Protesters rallied in various locations throughout the country Thursday evening against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for the 21st straight week, demanding his resignation, but with numbers appearing to dwindle.

Demonstrators gathered at city squares and bridges, invoking last week’s US presidential elections, in which incumbent Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

“The US elections signify the hope for Israeli citizens,” said the Black Flag movement, which is among the organizers of the protests.

The main gatherings were held in Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Nahariya, where previous marches by demonstrators ended in clashes with police, alleged violence, and arrests.

In many of the cities, demonstrators were planning to march on the streets.

Dozens of protesters were reported by 8:30 p.m. to be taking part in a Tel Aviv rally at Habima Square, as well as dozens at the city’s Rabin Square, Milano Square, Hamoshavot Square and Clock Square.

For the second straight week, there were no reports of clashes between protesters and police.

Last week, thousands of Israelis throughout the country took part in the weekly protests, with some expressing hope that Biden’s win would bring changes in Israel as well. Outside the US consulate in Tel Aviv, some protesters chanted: “Trump’s out and Bibi’s next.”

Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the US, Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans.

Biden has said he will not move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, but has signaled he will take a more even-handed approach toward Iran and the Palestinians.

The protesters oppose Netanyahu serving as prime minister while under indictment on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals involving billionaire associates and media moguls. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing.

Many also criticize the prime minister for what they say is his bungling of the coronavirus outbreak and its economic fallout.

The protests have gone on for months and kept a spotlight on Netanyahu at a time when the long-serving leader’s popularity has declined because of his handling of the virus outbreak.

The country is emerging in gradual stages from a monthlong lockdown that the government imposed in September to tamp down infections. Restrictions still in place have kept event halls, culture venues, hotels and restaurants closed while the economy continues to take a hit.

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