Benjamin Netanyahu professed his innocence at the start of his corruption trial on Sunday (May 24), describing the country's first criminal prosecution of a serving prime minister as "tainted" and "stitched up".
Flanked by members of his Likud party, Netanyahu appealed to public opinion, addressing the cameras as he called the allegations against him "hallucinatory" and an attempt to bring down a strong right wing prime minister - and adding that he would stand tall, with his head high.
Netanyahu was indicted in November in cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly granting favors to media tycoons in exchange for favorable coverage.
He arrived at court after chairing the first session of his new "unity cabinet" - sworn in a week ago after a surprise power-sharing deal with his main opponent Benny Gantz.
But outside the court crowds of protesters showed how divided public opinion is over Netanyahu's trial.
Some, like Leoni Amedi there to show their support.
"I hope he will be strong, very strong for us, for all of us, for all Israel, we love him very much."
Others like Rafael Malinovitz, their anger.
"Hopefully the court is going to make justice and is going to send him to jail."
Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving leader, now in office for more than 11 straight years, plus three in the 1990s.