Thousands protest in Israel over poor government aid

Thousands protest in Israel over poor government aid
Protesters say government compensation payments have been slow to arrive. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Thousands of people have staged a demonstrated in Israel’s capital Tel Aviv to protest against poor government aid. Protesters say is economic hardship caused by the government’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

The capital’s Rabin Square was filled with mainly young protesters wearing masks but not observing social distancing.

Protesters say government compensation payments have been slow to arrive.

The event was organised by self-employed workers, small businesses and performing artists’ groups.

After hundreds left the square after the event, they marched through Tel Aviv’s main streets, blocking junctions and roads and chanting “Bibi go home!”

Police arrested at least 20 after protesters after clashes erupted between law enforcement and protesters. Of those, 16 have been questioned and two will have court hearings regarding extending their detention.

Many Israelis are experiencing economic hardship due to coronavirus pandemic and have been angered by coronavirus measures that have taken their livelihoods away.

Three officers were lightly injured as protesters attacked police.

Police said the protesters threw tear gas and bottles at them and vandalized public property on Rothschild Boulevard.

A police statement said: “Police are constantly avoiding the use of force and are working to clear traffic jams to allow traffic flow.”

They expressed their frustration and anger against poor government aid and say money they are due from government support schemes has not been paid.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said in an interview onn Sunday morning on Kan television network that “Demonstrations are part of democracy, I understand the allegations and the pain of the demonstrators. Our plan is to provide an economic safety net for employees and the self-employed for the coming year. We will leave no one on on the streets.”

While workers on salaries received unemployment benefits via a furlough scheme, the self-employed say most of them have been waiting months for government aid what had been promised.

Michal Gaist-Casif, vice-president of a sound and lighting company, said: “I have 40 workers with no income, no money.”

Many in Israel are experiencing economic hardship. Source: Getty Images

He told to Reuters news agency: “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.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met activists on Friday to discuss their frustrations.

Mr Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling them: “We will meet our commitments including hastening the immediate payments that we want to give you.”

Israel’s unemployment has risen to 21%. The country imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March but started lifting restrictions in late May.

On Friday, Israel has seen a spike in coronavirus cases with nearly 1,500 new cases.

Johns Hopkins University data shows a total of 354 people have died from Covid-19 in Israel.