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Israelis continue to demonstrate after Netanyahu's press conference; he blamed the opposition, protesters for security situation

Israeli opposition leaders respond to blame-casting, ‘whining doesn’t build leadership’

Israelis who oppose the government's planned judicial overhaul block a road in Tel Aviv after a press conference of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Apr. 10, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s press conference on Monday night, in which he retracted his dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

During his speech, Netanyahu accused the previous government, under opposition leaders Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, of contributing to Israel’s current security crisis.

“Last year, under the previous government, the number of terrorist attacks doubled,” Netanyahu stated. 

The significant increase in terror attacks last year started in March, leading the Israel Defense Forces to launch Operation Break the Wave, which has continued until the present. 

Netanyahu also called Lapid’s maritime territory deal with Lebanon, brokered by the Biden administration, a “surrender agreement” that strengthens the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah. 

“The previous government signed an agreement with Hezbollah under which they gave territory and gas resources to the enemy without getting anything in return,” he said. 

These steps, along with the Israeli opposition’s repeated discourses decrying the security situation in Israel, have emboldened Israel’s enemies, Netanyahu claimed. 

“When you declare that Israel is collapsing, how do you think this is perceived by our enemies?” Netanyahu asked Lapid at a monthly security briefing

Almost immediately after Netanyahu’s speech, hundreds of protestors blocked the central intersection at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, as well as part of the Ayalon Highway, a main thoroughfare in central Israel. 

Police arrested eight people following scuffles with protestors. 

The Brothers in Arms reservist group, which has taken part in anti-government protests, commented, “Instead of dealing with his failed government of [military service] dodgers, Netanyahu attacks the holy reservists who fiercely defend the citizens of Israel. Netanyahu should be ashamed. Democracy is the best defense for Israel.” 

The group said it welcomed Netanyahu’s decision to keep Gallant in office, but said it “regrets the inciting verbiage at this time of anger and bereavement, and the failure to take responsibility for the serious security, political, and social situation it implies.” 

The leaders of the opposition were also quick to respond to Netanyahu’s criticism. 

Lapid, who is currently in the United States, wrote a response on social media. 

“While our enemies continue to claim precious human lives and the blood of our brothers and sisters is spilled in the streets, the prime minister loses control in front of the nation."

"Instead of holding press conferences and blaming others for the troubles caused by the extreme and failed government in the country’s history, it is time for him and his ministers to stop whining and finally take responsibility.” 

Lapid did commend Netanyahu for reversing his decision to fire Gallant. 

Netanyahu and Lapid met for a security briefing on Sunday, at which time Lapid recommended Netanyahu reverse Gallant’s dismissal, arguing that “The State of Israel needs a full-time defense minister.” 

Former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who has risen in popularity during the anti-government protests, also wrote on social media in response to Netanyahu’s speech: “Whining doesn’t build leadership.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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