Thousands of protesters express anger at Israeli prime minister over pandemic handling

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JERUSALEM – Thousands of Israelis staged several protests across the country on Saturday against their prime minister, with the main protest taking place in Jerusalem outside the official residence of Benjamin Netanyahu. Protests have continued for a few weeks, sparked by what critics see as a failure of the government to deal with the coronavirus crisis after initially keeping the virus threat at bay. Charges of corruption against Netanyahu further fueled the protests.

“Bibi, go home,” read a sign held by a protester. Another sign read: “Everyone can see that the emperor has lost his clothes.”

Hundreds of protesters also gathered outside Netanyahu’s beach house in the posh city of Caesarea on Saturday.

Police last week used water cannons to disperse crowds in Jerusalem.

After what was called a hasty and erratic reopening of the economy in May, infections skyrocketed with the average number of new cases per day reaching 2,000. The country’s economy has been battered by viral restrictions and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to almost 20%.

Protesters say the government’s financial aid offers are far from enough.

The protests came in the shadow of Netanyahu’s corruption trial that resumed this month. Hearings will begin in January. He is accused of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals.

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