ISRAEL :Tens of thousands of people have protested in Tel Aviv against alleged corruption within the government and the slow pace of investigations of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is suspected of receiving luxury gifts from wealthy supporters and has also faced police questioning over a secret deal he allegedly sought for favourable coverage with the publisher of the top-selling Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth.
Protesters massed in a large boulevard of an upmarket neighbourhood late on Saturday shouting “shame” and “Bibi go home”, referring to the prime minister by his nickname.
The rally – dubbed “the march of shame” – was organised by the leaders of weekly protests that have taken place outside the home of the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, over the past few months.
“Bibi and his government are destroying the country. There’s been enough corruption,” said one demonstrator, Michal, a Tel Aviv resident who preferred not to give his full name.
The opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, expressed solidarity with the protesters, writing on Facebook that “the frustration … stems from a feeling of injustice, revulsion against corruption and the moral objection to a law made to measure for one person”.
On Monday, Israel’s parliament give a second and third reading of a bill that Netanyahu’s opponents say is designed to help him survive the police investigation.
The bill’s sponsor, David Amsalem, of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said he sought only to protect the rights and reputation of suspects.
Netanyahu is suspected of having received luxury gifts from affluent individuals including the Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who has also been questioned.
Milchan, a long-time friend of Netanyahu, reportedly sent him boxes of expensive cigars and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Milchan has denied the gifts were part of any improper quid pro quo, according to Israeli media.
The police also suspect that Netanyahu sought a secret pact – not believed to have been finalised – under which he would have received favourable coverage in return for helping curb Yedioth’s competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.
Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents.