הפגנות בירושלים
Protestors outside of Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Protestors outside of Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem

Thousands protest in Jerusalem, despite lockdown

Protesters gather outside Netanyahu's official residence in what could be the last uninhibited demonstration as Knesset is set to vote on restrictions to protests

Associated Press |
Published: 09.26.20 , 22:20
Thousands gathered outside the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night to demand his resignation, pressing ahead with weeks of protests against the embattled leader despite a strict new lockdown order.
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  • With Israel facing one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, the tough lockdown rules went into effect Friday, closing many businesses, banning large gatherings and ordering people to stay close to home. But Knesset was unable to agree on proposed legislation that would ban the right to protest.
    הפגנות בירושליםהפגנות בירושלים
    Protestors outside of Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Netanyahu has pushed hard for a ban on the demonstrations, claiming they pose a threat to public safety, and he has threatened to declare a state of emergency to halt the unrest. But his opponents accuse him of using the health crisis as a pretext to put a halt to weeks of demonstrations against him.
    For over three months, thousands of people have thronged the streets of central Jerusalem near Netanyahu’s residence, calling on him to step down. Protesters say Netanyahu shouldn’t remain in office when he is on trial for corruption charges and accuse him of bungling the response to the coronavirus crisis. Many of the protesters are young, educated Israelis who have lost their jobs because of an economic downturn.
    הפגנות בירושליםהפגנות בירושלים
    Protestors in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolmoisky)
    Protesters at Saturday night’s gathering were noisy but orderly, with many standing in marked spots to conform with social distancing rules. Protest leaders urged people to keep a safe distance from one another, and the crowd stretched for blocks along a main road as police patrols looked on.
    Many of the demonstrators hoisted Israeli flags. One large banner accused Netanyahu of “White House laundromat,” a reference to a Washington Post report last week that the Netanyahus brings bags of dirty laundry with them to be cleaned when the prime minister visits the White House. Others said “disgrace,” “ashamed,” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” quoting the Ten Commandments before Sunday evening’s start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
    הפגנות בירושליםהפגנות בירושלים
    Protestors in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    It remains unclear whether Knesset will approve the ban on demonstrations. Defense Minister and Blue & White chief Benny Gantz has rejected the call for a state of emergency.
    Late Saturday, Netanyahu released a video defending the new lockdown, acknowledging that mistakes “absolutely” were made in recent months, but saying there was no choice but to impose the restrictions. He made no mention of the protests, but urged people to stay out of synagogues and only pray outdoors on Yom Kippur.
    A man rides a bicycle next to a billboard calling people to wear masks, on empty road following new restrictions in the three-week nationwide lockdown, in Tel Aviv A man rides a bicycle next to a billboard calling people to wear masks, on empty road following new restrictions in the three-week nationwide lockdown, in Tel Aviv
    A man rides a bicycle next to a billboard calling people to wear masks, on an empty road following new restrictions in the three-week nationwide lockdown, in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AP)
    Ultra-Orthodox leaders have objected to restrictions on public prayers, accusing the mostly secular authorities of discriminating against them while allowing the street protests to continue. The ultra-Orthodox sector has been hit especially hard by the virus.
    Israel has reported more than 226,000 cases since the pandemic began, including 1,417 deaths. It currently has more than 61,000 active cases, including 700 patients in serious condition.

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