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Israeli PM Netanyahu rails at media over swelling protests against his rule

The protests have largely been peaceful. In some cases they have ended with clashes between demonstrators and police

Benjamin Netanyahu | israel | Coronavirus

AP  |  Tel Aviv 

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister railed on Sunday at swelling protests against his rule, saying they are egged on by a biased media that distorts facts and cheers on the demonstrators.

Netanyahu has faced a wave of protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the long-serving, indicted leader to resign and panning his handling of the crisis. Netanyahu has painted the protests as dens of anarchists and leftists" out to topple a strong right-wing leader.

The protests have largely been peaceful. In some cases they have ended with clashes between demonstrators and police. In others, small gangs of Netanyahu supporters and individuals affiliated with far-right groups have assaulted demonstrators.

In a six-minute rant at a meeting of his Cabinet, Netanyahu slammed the media for inflaming the protests and for misrepresenting incidents of violence against the protesters.

There has never been such a distorted mobilization I wanted to say Soviet but it has already reached North Korean terms of the media in favour of the protests, he said.

Netanyahu said the media ignored wild and unfettered incitement, including daily calls including the day before yesterday to murder the prime minister and his family.

He said the protests were breeding grounds for the virus that were being allowed to take place with no limits, shutting down streets and neighbourhoods. He said right-wing protests have not been given such free rein.

He condemned violence from all sides at the start of his remarks before tearing into the media he has long viewed as hostile toward him. Also at the Cabinet meeting, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is the country's alternate prime minister under a power-sharing deal, said the protests must be allowed to take place with protesters shielded from violence.

The right to protest is the lifeblood of democracy and violence is the erosion of the foundation of democracy, he said.

Netanyahu's tirade came as his son Yair Netanyahu was summoned to a Jerusalem court after tweeting the names, addresses and phone numbers of prominent protesters, calling his followers to demonstrate outside their homes day and night.

The court granted the 28-year-old Netanyahu an exemption from appearing in court. Protesters said they received threatening calls after the tweet.

Throughout the summer, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets, calling for Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country's crisis and saying he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, August 02 2020. 21:47 IST