Thousands attend weekly protest against Israel’s Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (AP) — Several thousand protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night in what has become a weekly demonstration calling for the Israeli leader to resign.

The protesters have been demonstrating for some five months, saying Netanyahu is unfit to lead while he is on trial for corruption charges and because of his handling of the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has hit Israel’s economy hard, and many of the protesters are students and young Israelis who have lost their jobs.

Many protesters held Israeli flags or black or pink flags, which the grassroots movements behind the demonstrations have adopted as symbols. With the weather cooling down ahead of the rainy winter season, turnout Saturday appeared to be lower than in recent weeks.

Smaller demonstrations also were reported in Tel Aviv, outside Netanyahu’s vacation home in the upscale coastal town of Caesarea and locations across the country.

Netanyahu dismisses the protesters as “anarchists” and “leftists.”

Israel moved quickly to stop the coronavirus last spring, sealing its borders and imposing a lockdown that appeared to bring the virus under control. But the reopening of the economy was mismanaged, and the virus quickly returned, forcing a second lockdown in September.

The country is now slowly reopening sectors of the economy as it proceeds cautiously with an exit plan. Netanyahu announced that he has reached an agreement to procure next year 8 million doses of the new vaccine being developed by Pfizer, if the vaccine is approved by regulators.

Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. His trial is scheduled to enter its evidentiary phase in January.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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