Thousands of Israelis in 1st protests since new lockdown

Source: AFP Published: 2020/9/21 17:03:41

Protesters, drenched after being sprayed with water cannons by Israeli police, chant slogans during an anti-government demonstration in Jerusalem, Israel on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Thousands of Israeli protesters gathered Sunday in Jerusalem to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first of such demonstrations since the start of a new nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Authorities in Israel, which has seen one of the world's highest per capita rates of novel 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. 

Police said that barricades they had placed in the square where the demonstration was taking place were removed by the protesters who "did not listen to the rules and regulations."

During the lockdown, set to last at least three weeks, Israelis will be limited to within a radius of one kilometer for leisure, with trips beyond that limited to shopping for supplies, seeking medical treatment or working in jobs considered essential.



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