Israel's protests continue as thousands march against Netanyahu's handling of coronavirus

Israel's protests continue as thousands march against Netanyahu's handling of coronavirus

Thousands took to the streets in Israel on Saturday evening, with the main protest taking place in capital Jerusalem outside the official residence of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police on Sunday said more than a dozen people were arrested.

The protests have been going on for the past few weeks, sparked by what critics see as a government failure to handle the coronavirus crisis after initially keeping the threat of the virus at bay.

Corruption charges against Netanyahu have further fueled the demonstrations.

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

Hundreds of protesters also gathered outside Netanyahu’s beach house in Caesarea, north-central Israel.

The prime minister told protesters on Thursday to avoid descending into "anarchy, violence and police attacks", and urged them to maintain the "dignity" of Israel by following health guidelines in the "war" against coronavirus, which saw over 60,000 cases and 457 deaths in the country.

"Together we will fight and win", he added.

Last week, police used water cannons to disperse crowds in Jerusalem.

After what has been called a hasty and erratic reopening of the economy in May, infections shot up with the average number of new cases daily at 2,000.

The country’s economy has been battered by virus restrictions and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to nearly 20%.

Protesters say the government’s offers of financial assistance have been nowhere near enough, though the government recently announced new aid measures.

The protests came in the shadow of Netanyahu’s corruption trial which resumed this month. Hearings will start in January.

He is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals.