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Thousands In Israel Gather In Anti-Netanyahu Rally

People shout slogans during a rally in Rabin's square in Tel Aviv, Israel, late Saturday.
People shout slogans during a rally in Rabin's square in Tel Aviv, Israel, late Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to call for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ouster in upcoming parliamentary elections.

As NPR's Emily Harris reports, the gathering did not endorse a specific alternative: "Many of the Israelis filling Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv Saturday night said they didn't know who they were going to vote for. But most ... were against Netanyahu."

The Associated Press calls the rally "the highest profile demonstration yet in the run-up to the election."

The rally's speaker was ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who said Netanyahu was the person who had caused "the greatest strategic damage to Israel."

"I fear our current leadership," he said, warning that the Gaza war "ended with no deterrence and no diplomatic achievements," according to ynet.com.

The Times of Israel reports that in a statement responding to Dagan's speech, the Likud party said that "the rally in Tel Aviv is part of a campaign orchestrated by the left [and] funded by millions of dollars from abroad. The aim is to change the nationalist Likud government headed by Netanyahu with a left wing government headed by [Tzipi] Livni and [Isaac Herzog] which will be supported by the Arab parties."

The Times says the statement "noted that despite what it called Dagan's left wing ideology, the Mossad chief requested to extend his service under Netanyahu. The party asserted that the public knows that only a Netanyahu government can prevent a nuclear Iran and the establishment of a 'terror state' in the West Bank."

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