Israelis protest response to economic fallout from virus

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday against what they see as a bungled government response to the economic fallout from the new coronavirus.

Protesters gathered at a seaside park with signs reading “Out of touch. We’re fed up.”

It was the second week of demonstrations against the government’s response, which critics say has provided too little assistance and doesn’t offer a safety net for hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers and business owners to weather the crisis.

On Monday, the Israeli government approved a “safety net” meant to offer benefits to unemployed Israelis and aid to struggling business for a year, but protesters have continued.

Other protests focusing on opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were also held in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country. Police fired water cannons at protesters in Jerusalem who blocked roads.

Israel appeared to have largely contained a first wave of coronavirus infections earlier this year, but a reopening that critics say was hasty sent infections soaring and the country has begun to reimpose new restrictions on gatherings. The crisis has battered the economy and sent unemployment skyrocketing.

The number of Israelis who have died from COVID-19 is nearing 400 and officials have reported about 47,000 confirmed casesof coronavirus infections.

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