- The prime minister has been accused of leading a chaotic virus containment strategy as cases have surged.
TEL AVIV: An Israeli artist mocked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in a re-enactment of "The Last Supper" installed in central Tel Aviv, a day after people protesting against him in the city were beaten and bloodied.
Artist Itay Zalait said the piece in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, featuring a Netanyahu likeness perched over a long dining table and seated in front of a cake, represents "the last meal of Israeli democracy."
Netanyahu is "the man who dined his heart (out) when the State of Israel beat a million unemployed people hungry for bread," Zalait told reporters.
Protests have grown against the veteran premier over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the devastating economic crisis it has caused.
The prime minister has been accused of leading a chaotic virus containment strategy as cases have surged and economically painful initial restrictions have been reimposed.
Netanyahu says he has tried to strike a balance between protecting the economy and stemming transmission, a challenge faced by leaders across the world.
Crowds of thousands have gathered in Tel Aviv and outside the prime minister's Jerusalem residence in recent weeks, with some demonstrators demanding Netanyahu's resignation.
Tuesday's rallies were smaller than previous demonstrations, but the one in Tel Aviv turned violent.
According to police and video taken at the scene, anti-Netanyahu protesters were beaten by unidentified individuals. A police investigation has been opened.
Responding to images of bloody demonstrators, alternate prime minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz said: "A red line was crossed last night, when citizens exercising their right to protest were attacked."
"I insist that the right to demonstrate be protected," added Gantz, Netanyahu's election rival who joined the premier in a centre-right coalition government.
"We must not allow the violence to go unanswered."
On Twitter, Netanyahu called on police to bring those responsible for the beatings to justice, but also said that threats against him and his family were equally unacceptable.
"There is no room for violence for any reason," Netanyahu said.
"There is no room for incitement and murder threats - explicit or implicit - against myself and my family, including the shameful threat of crucifixion today in Tel Aviv," he said.
His use of the word "crucifixion" appeared to be in reference to the installation piece in Tel Aviv, which was a play on Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and did not include an image of Netanyahu on a cross.