Thousands of Israelis hold first protests since national lockdown

Thousands of Israeli protesters gathered Sunday in Jerusalem to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first such demonstrations since the start of a new nationwide coronavirus lockdown, AFP reports.
Authorities in Israel, which has seen one of the world’s highest per capita rates of coronavirus infections in the past two weeks, imposed a new nationwide lockdown on Friday.
Coinciding with the first day of the Jewish holiday season, it sparked particular anger among ultra-Orthodox Jews.
While the government was praised for its initial handling of the pandemic, implementing a strict lockdown in March, many Israelis have accused the government of bungling its crisis response since.
Protests are still allowed despite the new restrictions, and demonstrators were undeterred in joining the rally outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence, as they have done every week for almost three months.
Many protesters wore masks, but did not distance themselves from each other to prevent transmission of the virus.
Although economic activity usually slows during the Jewish high holidays, many in Israel fear the financial fallout of the second lockdown could be drastic.
Netanyahu’s government had tried various measures in recent months to avoid a full shutdown, such as weekend closures, but has repeatedly backtracked in the face of opposition.
The Jewish state has the world’s second-highest detected virus infection rate after Bahrain, according to an AFP tally over the past fortnight, recording 187,396 cases and 1,236 deaths.

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