In cold weather, anti-Netanyahu protests continue in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of protesters braved a cold night in Jerusalem on Saturday to press on with their calls for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down over corruption charges against him.
Demonstrators gathered at a Jerusalem square near Netanyahu’s official residence.
The weekly protests have been taking place for over seven months.
Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases involving billionaire associates and media moguls, charges that he denies.
The protesters insist Netanyahu cannot properly lead the country while under indictment for corruption.
His trial is set to begin evidentiary hearings next month.
Israel will hold its fourth national elections in two years in March, in what will likely be another referendum on Netanyahu as he faces a challenge from defectors within his Likud party.
The protesters also say Netanyahu and his government have bungled the coronavirus response.
The country has seen its economy hit hard by virus restrictions throughout the year and is again under a nationwide if partial lockdown amid surging infection rates.
Netanyahu and his allies have used Israel’s vaccination drive, in which more than a tenth of its population has been immunized, to try to belittle the protesters and their cause. They say the prime minister is working to end the outbreak while they hold demonstrations.