Thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday night in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities to protest government corruption.
As the evening began, some 500 people arrived at Zion Square in Jerusalem. They held up signs saying "We want a personal example," and "We deserve clean politics" and called out "Shame, shame!"
Protest organizer journalist Yoaz Hendel was the first to speak, clarifying: "I'm here today not because I'm against Netanyahu, but because I'm in favor of the State of Israel. I'm here because this is how I was raised in the religious Zionist sector, with a mix of Jabotinsky and Rabbi Kook. I'm here because we cannot live with 'divide and conquer.' We cannot live while my leadership doesn't see the value of setting a personal example and walking humbly."
"There is no contradiction between supporting the settlement enterprise and supporting morality," Hendel stressed.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon called for unity. "When we fought, was wounded and lost soldiers and family members, we didn't ask, nor did our enemies, whether we were Right, Left, or from other ethnicity," he said.
"This kind of unity is needed not just in the IDF and not just in war, but unfortunately short-term political interests led to division. Leadership needs to unite and not divide," Ya'alon continued.
"Why do politicians turn the issue of morality into a matter of Left and Right?" he lamented. "We need to demand our leaders to set a personal example. In my experience, setting a personal is a condition of trust. And I'm warning that when this trust is shaken, state security is also shaken."
Ya'alon added that when asked what keeps him up at night, it is not the Iranian nuclear threat, but rather "the corruption that is chipping away at society, hurting equal opportunities, and comes at the expense of our health," he said. "Corruption gives citizens the feeling injustice is being done. This is a bigger danger than the threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or ISIS."
Former Otzma LeYisrael MK Aryeh Eldad, meanwhile, asserted that "No honest man can agree with a corrupt government. Netanyahu is trying to convince us that if he falls, the Left wing will rise to power, and I share this fear. If the national camp chooses a trustworthy candidate, there is no reason the exchange of government will lead to the rise of the Left."
The Likud Party rejected the Jerusalem protest: "The right-wing is not buying this bluff. Everyone knows this is not a protest against corruption, but rather a satellite protest of the left-wing demonstration on Rothschild Boulevard, the entire purpose of which is to bring down the Likud government. Right-wing voters are unimpressed by a handful of naïve and interest-driven people who collaborate with the Left, and they will not repeat the mistake of bringing down a Likud government and leading to a disaster of another Oslo Accod."
In Tel Aviv, several thousand people gathered on Rothschild Boulevard for the fourth week of protests, calling out "Mandelblit is a failure, he won't get to the Supreme Court," "We'll send the mafia to history's garbage can," "the country is ours, not Netanyahu's" and "Bibi Netanyahu, go to Maasiyahu Prison."
They held up signs saying "Corrupted, go home" among others.
Social justice activist Aybee Binyamin, one of the organizers of the Tel Aviv protests, praised the rally in Jerusalem. "The victory this week is much bigger because the moral right-wing realized it must join us and fight corruption and the corrupted," he said.
"A year ago, outside Mandelblit's home in Petah Tivka, there were only a few of us. Today, we're here and in 16 other locations, more determined than always," Binyamin added. "The gatekeepers, the Knesset and the opposition let us down."
Some 300 people gathered in Haifa to protest, including elderly people, parents with children, national religious Jews. They chanted slogans such as: "Corrupted Bibi, we'll see you in court" and "Mandelblit, we'll never forgive or forget the cover up."
"This struggle is not just against corruption, but in support of a different kind of culture to serve democracy," said one of the speakers, Motti Ashkenazi, who spearheaded a protest against the government following the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
"It's not about whether the prime minister is corrupted, but whether Netanyahu's conduct corrupts others," he added.
Ashkenazi noted in regards to the Haifa Bay ammonia crisis that the prime minister "allows endangering the lives of the residents of Haifa, only to increase the profits of the Trump brothers (who own Haifa Chemicals). It's not just corruption, but horrible disregard of human lives."
Also in northern Israel, close to 200 people also demonstrated at the Tzemach Junction, some 300 in Afula and some 100 in Rosh Pina.