Israelis protest against Netanyahu amid a third virus lockdown

Jerusalem (AFP) – Thousands of Israelis renewed on Saturday the weekly demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding the long-standing leader to resign over corruption charges against him and his alleged mishandling of the Coronavirus crisis.

The protesters held up banners reading “Go” and “Oh Bibi, let my people go,” referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

The protest in a Jerusalem square near Netanyahu’s official residence comes as Israel is entering the midst of the third national lockdown, which was recently tightened to close schools, as the country moves forward with a world-leading vaccination campaign. Netanyahu’s trial was due to resume this week, but has been postponed. Indefinitely amid tightening restrictions.

Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three long-running investigations. He denied wrongdoing and said he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by hostile media, law enforcement and judicial officials. Protesters say Netanyahu cannot properly lead the country while being indicted.

Israel has seen a recent spike in cases despite launching one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world. The country gave the first two doses of the vaccine to nearly 20% of its population, and Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel had secured enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of March.

Netanyahu has put the vaccination campaign at the center of his campaign for reelection In the same month. On March 23, Israel will hold its fourth elections in less than two years. Meanwhile, he called on the Israelis to make a “major last effort” to stop the transmission by adhering to the tight restrictions.

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