Israel's Netanyahu rails at media over protests against him

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Protesters block a main road during a protest against Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem, early Sunday, Aug 2, 2020. Protesters demanded that the embattled Israeli leader resign as he faces a trial on corruption charges and grapples with a deepening coronavirus crisis. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

TEL AVIV – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday railed at swelling protests against his rule, saying they were 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 resignation of the long-serving leader, who is on trial for corruption charges. They've also panned his handling of the coronavirus 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 favor 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 neighborhoods. 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.