“A Frightened Tyrant”: Is The Sport Up For Israel’s Netanyahu?

Anti-government protesters gathered as they stage a four-day sit-in Jerusalem on Tuesday.


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Houdini of Israeli politics and its longest serving prime minister, has been written off many occasions earlier than.

However with hundreds of protesters on the streets each evening this week demanding his resignation, and rising anger at his dealing with of the battle in Gaza, many surprise how lengthy the veteran political escapologist can survive.

The often bullish Netanyahu, 74, seems each bodily and politically fragile.

Deeply unpopular — not more than 4 p.c of Israelis belief him, based on one ballot late final 12 months — the battle in Gaza is taking its toll on the person Israelis name Bibi.

Visibly frail and sallow, he was short-tempered and distracted throughout a tv speech Saturday which his former minister and Likud colleague Limor Livnat known as “catastrophic”.

The left-wing day by day Haaretz mentioned he seemed “like a frightened tyrant”.

Netanyahu was much more gaunt when he left hospital in Jerusalem Tuesday after a hernia operation solely to should face the ire of the worldwide group after an Israeli strike killed seven assist staff for a US-based group in Gaza.

“It occurs in battle,” Netanyahu mentioned with a tact which can not have been appreciated within the White Home, which mentioned it was “heartbroken” on the deaths.

“Netanyahu has been buried politically many occasions earlier than and bounced again,” mentioned Emmanuel Navon, a former Likud member and political science professor.

“However this time is totally different due to October 7. It isn’t the identical nation. It is over for Bibi.

“He’s 74, would not do any train, has a really exhausting job and he had a pacemaker put in six months in the past.”

– Blamed for October 7 ‘catastrophe’ –

However Navon doubts Netanyahu shall be compelled from workplace by the brand new wave of mass road protests regardless of the fury of the hostages’ households.

Einav Zangauker, the mom of one of many 134 nonetheless held in Gaza, branded him a “pharaoh, a slayer of first-borns” at Tuesday evening’s rally outdoors parliament in Jerusalem, the fourth consecutive evening of protests.

They’ve seen hostage households uniting with anti-government demonstrators who spent 9 months on the streets final 12 months attempting to cease controversial judicial reforms pushed by Netanyahu’s far-right allies.

The “catastrophe” of October 7 would have killed off every other politician. However Navon in contrast Netanyahu’s maintain over the ruling Likud get together to Donald Trump’s over US Republicans.

“Likud lawmakers are petrified to be penalised within the subsequent primaries by the ‘Trio’ — Bibi, his spouse and his son who determine every little thing,” mentioned the professor at Tel Aviv College.

“Peoples’ political lives rely upon him. He has surfed populism, his candidates now are typically conspiracy principle wackos. It isn’t the identical get together of 20 years in the past.”

– Divide and rule –

Together with his coalition reeling from disaster to disaster, enemies appear to be circling as by no means earlier than across the chief of Israel’s most right-wing authorities ever.

Prosecutors are pushing forward with a corruption trial in opposition to him regardless of the battle, and protesters tried to interrupt via police boundaries to get to his house on Tuesday for the second time in 4 days.

Even his defence minister, Likud stalwart Yoav Gallant, is defying him over the deeply divisive difficulty of ultra-Orthodox Jews escaping obligatory navy service even because the battle in Gaza rages and one other looms with Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Netanyahu has lengthy relied on the help of spiritual events to control.

“Excusing a complete group when the navy wants a lot extra manpower is unforgivable,” Basic Reuven Benkler instructed AFP at an anti-government rally Monday.

The 65-year-old got here out of retirement to serve within the north after the Hamas assault which resulted in 1,160 deaths in Israel, largely civilians, based on an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory marketing campaign has killed not less than 32,916 individuals, largely ladies and kids, based on the well being ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Benkler mentioned the “hostages won’t come house whereas Bibi remains to be in energy”, including that Netanyahu was dragging out the battle in Gaza to delay his rule — a declare endlessly repeated on the protests.

“He would not give a rattling about anybody else aside from himself.”

Netanyahu’s three-decade maintain over Israeli politics was primarily based on divide and rule, Navon mentioned. And his declare that solely he may maintain the nation secure, October 7 shattered that.

His promise of elections in 2026 was “delusional”, the analyst mentioned. “However protesters calls for for them now are additionally unrealistic. The top of the 12 months when the battle has been gained in Gaza and the north is extra probably,” he added.

On Tuesday evening, hostage mom Zangauker accused Netanyahu of letting Israel’s guard fall, declaring at a mass protest to thunderous cheers: “It is all of your fault — 240 have been kidnapped in your watch.”

“You nurtured and raised Hamas,” she added, and but “you name us traitors (for protesting throughout a battle) when you find yourself the traitor.”

(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)


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