Hundreds of Israelis poured into the streets recently against Netanyahu and his perceived failure to handle the country’s deepening economic crisis.
The protest sparked after 34-year-old Nimrod Gross arrived on the street in attending his first-ever public protest with the blue-and-white Israeli flag protesting the harsh economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Gross and his flag were pummeled by powerful police water cannons. The moment was captured by an Associated Press photographer, quickly becoming an emblematic image of the public outcry generating the wave of demonstrations sweeping the country against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reports AP.
Netanyahu, standing trial for corruption, has tried to dismiss the youthful protesters as radicals and anarchists flouting public health restrictions while he marshals the country through a national emergency.
But the thousands now taking to the streets several times a week come from all walks of life, and with unemployment surging to record numbers, they are demanding a reckoning from the longtime leader.
“I feel like I grew up on this dream that is blowing up in our faces,” said Gross. “You do everything that society demands of you, and then suddenly you are illegitimate.”
“Corona is just this magnifying glass that enhances everything that is already wrong with this country. We’ve reached this critical mass where we just have to do something,” said Gross. “We just don’t believe them anymore. They have no shame.”
Netanyahu, who managed to remain in power after three inconclusive elections by convincing his chief rival to join him in an “emergency” government designed specifically to tackle the pandemic, has borne most of the brunt.
His government has particularly been criticized for providing too little assistance to hundreds of thousands of laid-off Israelis and struggling self-employed workers and business owners. The government has also been accused of issuing confusing and contradictory guidelines that have angered citizens.