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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Thousands of Israelis took to the streets in downtown Tel Aviv on Saturday, protesting what is widely seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many Israelis believe government has not done enough to compensate hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their jobs as a result of restrictions and shutdowns.
Unemployment has surged 21 per cent since Israel went into lockdown in March, and aid packages promised by the government have been slow to come through. These had led to Mr Netanyahu’s popularity plummeting.
The protest in central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square brought together the unemployed, self-employed, entrepreneurs and business owners.
Participants wore masks, but did not appear to be following social distancing rules.
Alarmed by a new spike in coronavirus cases which surged after the economy began reopening, Mr Netanyahu this week reimposed a series of restrictions in a bid to contain infections, closing many businesses again.
"I have 40 workers with no income, no money," said Michal Gaist-Casif, vice president of a sound and lighting company.
"We need the government to pump in money until we're back to normal. We haven't been working since mid-March through April, May, June and July, and August is looking to be a catastrophe."
"People feel helpless, there's no response. They are enraged and want the government to take responsibility," said Roee Cohen, president of the Israel Chamber of Independent Organizations and Businesses.
On Thursday, Mr Netanyahu announced an economic “safety net” promising quick relief to the self-employed and stipends over the coming year for struggling workers and business owners.
The government is expected to approve the plan on Sunday.
Updated: July 12, 2020 02:13 AM
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