Thousands march in weekly Tel Aviv anti-corruption rally
Some 1,500 people congregate in Tel Aviv's Bima Square, plan to march to city's Government Quarter in protest of corruption, mishandling of PM Netanyahu's investigations; 'Where the government is corrupt, no social justice can exist,' said organizer of the 1973 Yom Kippur War protests.
For the 59th week in a row, a protest over government corruption was held in Tel Aviv Saturday night against what demonstrators say are delays in the investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, instead of a march through the city's Rothschild Boulevard, participants will be marching from the Bima Square plaza to the Tel Aviv Government Quarter, near the Azrieli Towers.
Some 1,500 people congregated in Habima Square, once again waving signs saying "Crime minister" and called on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to resign alleging his mishandling of Netanyahu's investigations.
Protesters also cried out the usual chants of "Corrupted, go home!" and "Capital and government equal underworld."
"You're here to call on the corrupt to abdicate their positions," said Meni Naftali, a former caretaker at the Prime Minister's Residence. "You watch the prime minister's children on the news, but we don't care about that. We care about the prime minister himself and Mandelblit. We're all fighting for the same thing."
Motti Ashkenazi, who led anti-government protests in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, also attended the rally and said, "Where the government is corrupt no social justice can exist. It's a shame on democracy. It's time to embark on a new age, in which social justice will be attainable, in which corruption will no longer exist. We'll change our future—and that of our grandchildren—with our own hands."
Prof. Uzi Arad, a former advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu and head of the National Security Council, who also spoke at last week's protest, said regarding the submarine affair, "Gentlemen, it's time for the prime minister to either be questioned or provide testimony on Case 3000. There are irregularities in something the prime minister was directly involved in—forfeiting tenders on ships to protect oil rigs to benefit (German firm) ThyssenKrupp."
Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism Rabbi Gilad Kariv said, "These rallies are a testament to many Israelis' concern for the future of their country. Seventy years ago, not far from here the Declaration of Independence was signed, and its signatories never could have imagined the false prophets whispering in the king's ear whatever he wishes to hear.
"Corruption does not harm only government, but the moral lives of us all. We should know our public officials are forthright in their dealings and do not look after the interests of sycophants."
Avi Arazi, presented as the person who blew the whistle on the Rishon LeZion municipality corruption affair, said, "Netanyahu has built investigation dummies all around him, and we won't be slaves to that game. We'll demand the feeling of belonging, we'll trace our own future, clean local authorities—we can only succeed by acting together."
Saturday's protest was the sixth consecutive rally to be held in the country's second largest city. Last week, however, the protest turned especially vitriolic with signs calling Netanyahu a traitor.
The Tel Aviv District Police's permit for this week's protest said, therefore, that "No signs, posters or speeches will be displayed or made that include incitement, sedition or goading to committing violent or otherwise unlawful acts."
Earlier Saturday, one of the protests' organizers Eldad Yaniv sent a message to protesters on social media saying, "To all those who are depressed and think that nothing's happening, attend the protest because we'll have speeches from people who have been through worse."
"We mustn't despair, we're here for the long haul and we'll win. Some of us have been on the streets for a year. We'll march on the Government Quarter to awaken Tel Aviv because this is a fight for the country. It's war.
Commenting on recent protests, where a sign calling Netanyahu a traitor was waved and a model guillotine displayed, Yaniv said, "Don't get overworked over people's dumb signs. We have to ignore background noises."
Simultaneous to the main Tel Aviv protest, demonstrations also took place elsewhere in the country. In the Haifa Auditorium's plaza some 100 people protested corruption by holding white umbrellas emblazoned with "A deluge of corruption." In Karkur Junction, meanwhile, 200 people protested.
Ahiya Raved and Raanan Ben Zur contributed to this article.