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Israeli Police used water canons to disperse demonstrators around to PM Netanyahu's residence

Tel Aviv, JerusalemIsraeli Police used water canons to disperse demonstrators around to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on Saturday July 18, as protests mounted against him over alleged corruption and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Hit by high unemployment, a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and reimposed coronavirus curbs, Israelis have taken to the streets in almost daily demonstrations against the government. Public anger has been compounded by corruption alleged against Netanyahu, who went on trial in May for bribery, fraud and breach of trust - charges which he denies.

In Jerusalem, hundreds gathered outside the prime minister's residence and then marched through the streets, calling for Netanyahu's resignation as police used water cannons to disperse the crowds. At least two people were arrested, police said. In Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial hub, thousands gathered at a rally by the beach, demanding better state aid to businesses hurt by covid-19 restrictions and to people who have lost their jobs or have been put on unpaid leave. Unemployment presently stands at 21%. A poll by the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute on Tuesday found only 29.5% of the public trust Netanyahu's handling of the crisis.

Netanyahu has announced numerous economic aid packages, some of which have been slow to come through and others that have drawn criticism for being ineffective. Israel, with a population of 9 million, has reported almost 50,000 coronavirus cases and 400 deaths.

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