Protesters at Weekly Anti-corruption Rally Call for Netanyahu to Be Jailed

Hundreds of protesters criticize the attorney general for not acting swiftly enough and another minister for not coming out against Netanyahu

Anti-corruption protesters in Petah Tikva, September 2, 2017.
David Bachar

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the attorney general's house in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva on Saturday night as part of a weekly demonstration against government corruption. Rallies protesting Avichai Mendelblit's handling of the investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been going on for 41 weeks.

The main rally took place in Goren Square, which was fenced off by police. Last month, the High Court of Justice ruled that no more than 500 protesters may assemble there for the weekly demonstrations. Some people refused to enter the area marked by the police and instead protested outside the fence throughout the square.

Similar rallies took place in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Nes Ziona, with hundreds in attendance.

In restricting the number of protesters in Petah Tikva, the High Court accepted all of the police’s demands but rejected the police claim that the demonstrations required a permit. A final ruling on the matter is pending. 

At the beginning of the protest, one of its organizers, Meni Naftali – a former chief caretaker at the Prime Minister's Residence – said, "This isn't about serving trays, but about thousands of shekels of public money that was paid to chefs, among others, for a lunch with [billionaire Arnon] Milchan." Addressing the restrictions placed on the protesters, he said: "We are waiting for a decision from the High Court. If we have to change locations, then we'll move."

The protesters yelled out rhyming slogans in Hebrew against the prime minister and called for his imprisonment. The protests have long criticized the attorney general for his purported foot dragging in the corruption investigations against Netanyahu and called for his resignation. This week, protestors added signs condemning Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) for not coming out publicly against the prime minister and his wife Sara. 

Some 15 counter-protesters gathered across the square, chanting "stop the attempted coup."