Several dozen pro-democracy demonstrators gathered Monday night in a protest area set up by activists from the “black flag” movement on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
The activists protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and corruption in government. Some protesters plan to sleep at the site for the coming days, in an act reminiscent of the 2011 social protests.
Another several dozen protesters gathered at Azrieli junction in Tel Aviv, in a demonstration organized by the Standing Together organization, demanding economic security.
“At any given moment we can do the maximum possible for our country, not as a cliché,” said Shikma Schwartzman, a leader of the "black flag" protests. She added that the demonstration would continue for a number of days. “Perhaps it won’t succeed, but I believe that this country deserves some real hope.”
Former MK Stav Shaffir, one of the organizers of the 2011 social protests, spoke at the demonstration. “When we stood here nine years ago, the situation was a lot less serious,” she said. “They told us nothing would happen, and that was a lie.”
“Our country is undergoing a shake-up. We, the people, have to take the reins,” she added.
Rivka Wittenberg, a cleaning worker from Tel Aviv who came to the demonstration, said that “We have to express solidarity not just with those who don’t have a salary to bring home, but with people like me, contract workers who are on unpaid leave and are getting 80 percent of the minimum wage, a little more than 4,000 shekels [$1,164].”
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Former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Dan Halutz, who was also at the protest, said that “The coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis are connected. I think that the politicians forgot for whom they are working.
"I expect the public system to reevaluate and that some of the people who supported Benjamin Netanyahu in his seat, retract. The public is dormant and doesn’t yet understand the magnitude of the trouble that’s landed on us,” he continued.
Protests across Israel have increased in recent days. On Saturday evening, about 1,500 protesters gathered in Jerusalem to demand the release of detained activists who were arrested while blocking a road at an anti-Netanyahu rally a day earlier.
Three of the protesters, including protest leader and former general Amir Haskel, have since been unconditionally released by the Jerusalem District Court following comments condeming their detention.
In response to widespread criticism over Haskel's arrest, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called for Haskel's release.
the right to protest is a "sacred right" in Israel and must not be violated, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said that Haskel "paid the full price, in his life and his actions, for the right and obligation to demonstrate and protest."