Gad Lior
Gad Lior
Photo: Ynet
Thousands protesting in Tel Aviv against the government's conduct during the pandemic

Mass protests are warnings for Israel's government

Opinion: The people have grown tired of the empty promises and politicking; on Saturday thousands marched to protest the government's handling of the economic crisis triggered by coronavirus, starting a wave that might end up engulfing the country

Gad Lior |
Published: 07.18.20 , 23:53
Thousands protested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Saturday night. This was not a protest of a political nature, it was not a protest of whiners, and it was certainly not another run-of-the-mill demonstration.
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  • On Saturday, nine years after Israelis started spontaneously protesting the high costs of basic food stuffs in the country, in what would later be known as the "cottage cheese protest," the masses walked out into the streets yet again.
    עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"
    Thousands protesting in Tel Aviv against the government's conduct during the pandemic
    (Photo:Tal Shahar)
    So into the streets flooded the self-employed, the workers who were forced onto unpaid leave and those who outright lost their jobs, and the distressed owners of struggling businesses.
    Nobody asked them who they voted for or what they thought about West Bank annexation.
    Just like in 2011, thousands had gathered to protest the government's failures, failures that only compounded the woes of the worst economic plague Israel has ever known, on top of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country.
    The close to one million unemployed, together with hundreds of thousands of business owners, have simply lost patience and any remaining trust they may have had for the current "coronavirus government."
    For this is a government that has been busy with practically everything but the severe hardships facing the citizens who elected them.
    עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"
    Israelis from all sectors attended a Tel Aviv protest over the government's handling of the crisis
    (Photo: EPA)
    The straw that broke the camel's back were the four back-to-back economic plans laid one atop another like patches. For with each plan the government neglected a separate sector.
    One plan forgot those who are entitled to a particular set of benefits, one ignored the retired population, another neglected the members of the cultural world who have been sitting at home for four months, and the fourth disregarded the tourism sector, whose workers will most likely have no job for the foreseeable future.
    Those who went to protest are those who are sick of the leaders who have made constant empty promises with no intention of following through.
    One grant was promised ahead of Passover, but barely arrived as the eight-day holiday was ending.
    בנימין נתניהו ישיבת ממשלהבנימין נתניהו ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    "I don't even have 20 shekels to buy an ice cream for my kid," said a freelancer without a livelihood two weeks ago, on the same day that the Knesset granted Netanyahu a retroactive tax exemption worth one million shekels.
    Last week, a veteran restaurant owner wept on national television as he explained how he had been forced out of business by the financial crisis. Within the hour, the Knesset met to discuss whether a committee should be formed to look into possible conflict of interests within the judiciary.
    עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"עימותים ועצורים אחרי ההפגנה: "זו מלחמה"
    Thousands protesting in Tel Aviv against the government's conduct
    (Photo:Tal Shahar)
    Benjamin Netanyahu is an experienced, savvy politician. On Friday afternoon he realized that he could be facing a new wave of protests, but his efforts to persuade the self-employed to cancel the protest fell on deaf ears.
    This kind of behavior is precisely why there were protests to begin with, not to mention the hole-filled plans, constant empty promises, assistance that never arrived and the prevailing lack of trust in the government.
    On Saturday, the people showed Netanyahu's unity government a yellow card, one that could lead to it being sent off the pitch altogether.
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