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Arrests after clashes during protests against Netanyahu in Israel

Police in Israel arrested more than a dozen people after nationwide protests in a growing and persistent violent crackdown on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his approach to the corona virus crisis.

People’s homes demonstrated outside of Mr. Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, and hundreds gathered in a seafront park in Tel Aviv, demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation and beat his response to the crisis.

For the first time since the wave of protests weeks ago, hundreds also gathered outside Mr. Netanyahu’s private home in the posh coastal town of Caesarea, where they were greeted by heavy security.

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Israeli police officers arrest protestor during protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his hometown in Jerusalem (Ariel Schalit / AP)

Demonstrators along bridges and intersections waved black flags, symbolizing one of the movements behind the protests demanding the removal of the Prime Minister.

The protests emerge as one of the biggest challenges for Mr. Netanyahu’s long-term rule, as demonstrations on cost of living brought hundreds of thousands to the streets in 2011.

They live up to what critics say the prime minister encountered the clumsy fiddle of the Covid-19 response and in the shadow of his corruption trial, which resumed earlier this month.

At a news conference coinciding with protests last week, Mr. Netanyahu addressed emerging protests and warned protesters, “Don’t drag the country into anarchy, violence, vandalism.”

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Protesters in Tel Aviv demanding the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on trial for corruption charges and struggling with mounting corona virus crisis (Oded Balilty / AP)

Critics say the police have been brutal in trying to clean up the protests, using water cannons to dislodge them and in some cases cause injury.

Police say protesters who ignore calls to spread are being removed to restore order.

Police fired water cannons at protesters at the Jerusalem protest, saying 12 people were arrested there for being involved in disturbances.

Two other people were arrested in separate locations for attacking protesters with pepper spray and a knife.

Israel appeared to have had its first wave of coronavirus infections in the spring, with Netanyahu bragging that Israel was one of the most successful countries in the world in its response to the virus.

But what critics say was a hasty and ill-conceived reopening that sparked new business, with Israel now claiming one of the highest infection rates in the world, adjusted for the population.

The government, which was set up with the aim of concentrating on fighting the virus, has slowly and hesitantly set out to stem the new outbreak.

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Israeli police officers wrestle with protesters outside Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem (Ariel Schalit / AP)

Israel has since re-imposed some restrictions after an extensive lockdown in the spring paralyzed its economy.

Unemployment has since risen to over 20%, from about 3.9% before the outbreak, and anger has grown over the government’s financial assistance plans, which have been criticized for giving the poor a little or nothing.

The crisis has rocketed public confidence in Mr Netanyahu and his government at a time when the Israeli leader could use the aid.

A court earlier this month decided that the Prime Minister’s corruption trial would resume in January with three hearings a week, a pace that keeps his legal woes firmly in the public consciousness, raising questions about his ability to counter and defend the charges at the same time To keep him out.

Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breaches of trust and taking bribes in a series of scandals involving billionaires and media magnates.

He denies wrongdoing and accuses the media, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies of plotting to overthrow him against the will of the people.