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Israel’s Netanyahu rails against protesters asking him to resign | Israel News

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has railed at swelling protests against his rule, saying they are being egged on by a biased media.

Netanyahu has faced a wave of protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the long-serving leader to resign, panning his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and saying he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.

In a nearly six-minute rant at a meeting of his cabinet, Netanyahu slammed the media for “inflaming” the protests – devoting disproportionate airtime to them – and for distorting incidents of violence against the protesters.

“In the name of democracy, I see an attempt to trample on democracy,” said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s statements came after thousands of demonstrators gathered outside his official residence in central Jerusalem, while smaller anti-government gatherings were also held in Tel Aviv, near his beach house in central Israel and at dozens of busy intersections nationwide.

The demonstrations on Saturday were among the largest turnouts in weeks of protests. Though Netanyahu has tried to play down the protests, the twice-a-week gatherings show no signs of slowing.

Israeli media estimated that at least 10,000 people demonstrated near the official residence in central Jerusalem. Late Saturday, thousands marched through the streets in a noisy but orderly rally.

Demonstrators waved Israeli flags and blew horns as they marched. Many held posters that said “Crime Minister” and “Bibi Go Home” or accused Netanyahu of being out of touch with the public.

Hundreds of people remained in the area well after midnight, ignoring calls by police to leave.

Anti-riot forces moved into the area and began clearing out people. As of early Sunday morning, most of the remaining protesters appeared to be leaving peacefully, but police were seen dragging some activists away.

Clashes with police

The rallies against Netanyahu are the largest Israel has seen since 2011 protests against the country’s high cost of living.

Netanyahu has dismissed the demonstrators as “leftists” and “anarchists.”

Late on Saturday, his Likud party issued a statement that accused Israel’s two private TV stations of giving “free and endless publicity” to the protesters and exaggerating the importance of the gatherings.

While the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, there have been signs of violence in recent days.

Some protesters have clashed with police, accusing them of using excessive force, while small gangs of Netanyahu supporters affiliated with a far-right group have assaulted demonstrators. Netanyahu has claimed demonstrators are inciting violence against him.

Israeli police have arrested some 20 far-right activists in recent days, and police said they were on high alert for violence at the demonstrations.

Several arrests of Netanyahu supporters were reported Saturday, including a man who got out of his car in the northern city of Haifa and threw a stone towards a crowd of protesters. Police said a 63-year-old woman was slightly hurt.

The demonstrations are organised by a loose-knit network of activist groups. Some object to Netanyahu remaining in office while he is on trial. He has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals. Many carry black flags, which have given their name to the grassroots movement.

Many of the demonstrators, including many young unemployed Israelis, accuse Netanyahu of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and the economic damage it has caused.

After moving quickly to contain the virus earlier in the year, many believe Israel reopened its economy too soon, leading to a surge in cases.

The country is now coping with record levels of coronavirus, while unemployment has surged to more than 20 percent.

As of Sunday, there were more than 72,000 coronavirus cases reported in Israel with more than 500 confirmed deaths.

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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

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But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



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