Thousands of Israelis protest against Netanyahu’s COVID-19 management

Jerusalem, Jul 18 (efe-epa).- The second wave of COVID-19 is sowing growing discontent in Israel, where thousands of people protested Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly questioned management of the crisis.

Protests took place across the country, while the largest were in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In the Holy City, some 2,000 protesters gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence and demanded his resignation.

Hundreds of them later dispersed throughout the city, attempting to block streets and confronting the police, who arrested people.

In Tel Aviv, thousands of freelancers, workers and entrepreneurs gathered in a central park to protest against the government’s response to the health and economic crisis, and they denounced that Netanyahu did not adopt a firm plan in time. At this point, more than 850,000 Israelis are out of work, and unemployment is at 21 percent.

It is the second consecutive Saturday in which an act of such magnitude has taken place in the city. Last week, some 10,000 people packed the iconic Rabin Square to ask the government for more help.

The demonstrations also protested against the prime minister over the corruption charges against him, for which he faces a second court hearing Sunday.

Israel, which passed the first phase of the coronavirus with moderate impact, has been experiencing a second, stronger outbreak for weeks.

The country of some 9 million people completed a swift reopening in late May. It then registered 17,000 cases and 285 deaths, but its accelerated de-escalation led to a worrying increase in infections. On Saturday it recorded a total of almost 50,000 cases and 400 deaths, and the trend continued to rise.

This has caused authorities to have to backtrack. Last week they closed bars, clubs and event rooms, on Friday they imposed the closure of non-essential businesses during weekends and from Tuesday restaurants will also close, which will have serious consequences for the country’s economy.

The situation also hurts Netanyahu’s credibility. The president was proud to have successfully contained the first wave, but this second one seems to be out of control, the population is increasingly dissatisfied and the unrest is evident in the streets, where protests have greatly increased in just over a week.

Analysts say that there is no clear and unified policy to deal with the new coronavirus. EFE-epa


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