Thousands protest in Israel against government's economic policies

Unemployment has surged over 20% in Israel

 Thousands of people gathered to protest against the economic policies and mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic by the Israeli government in Rabin square Tel Aviv. According to the protest organisers, more than 10,000 people participated in the protest. 
Demonstrators decry insufficient financial support to small business owners and the self-employed, amid ongoing coronavirus crisis; scuffles, arrests reported as crowd disperses
Thousands of people descended on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest against the Israeli government’s handling of the economic crisis caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and what they say is insufficient aid offered to small business owners and professionals in the hard-hit entertainment and hospitality industries.
 People of various economic backgrounds and sectors were at the demonstration on Saturday, including owners of hard-hit small businesses, freelancers and self-employed, members of the entertainment industry and of the restaurant and hospitality sector, as well as university students. Student unions said they would take part in the event to show their concern at the large numbers of young people made jobless by closures.
With economic stress deepening in recent weeks, many Israelis think the government has not done enough to compensate hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their jobs as a result of restrictions and shutdowns.
Unemployment has surged over 20%, and the economic woes have sent once high approval ratings for Netanyahu's handling of the virus plummeting.

The unemployed people complained that government hasn’t provided any assistance and help in these hard times. One protestor summed up the mood of huge crowd of unemployed people and said that "We are not working already nearly five months and unfortunately most of us have not received any compensation from the Israeli government and this is really a tragedy. How you can feed your family and pay your employees etc. after five months with zero income?"
 Israel imposed strict restrictions in the spring that appeared to rein in the virus but battered its economy, skyrocketing unemployment rates. Many Israelis haven't returned to work and a new uptick in cases has triggered a new wave of restrictions, prompting even more people to be forced out of work.
The government has announced a number of compensation packages worth billions of dollars, but many say they have yet to see any of the funding promised to them. On Thursday, Netanyahu announced an economic "safety net" promising quick relief to the self-employed and stipends over the coming year for struggling workers and business owners. The government is expected to approve the plan on Sunday.
Addressing the crowd at the protest, Ahinoam Nehmad, the owner of a domestic tourism company, said: “The fight began with the lockdown and continued with not receiving fair compensation. We fight for the present, for our livelihood, for our dignity as human beings — and that is no ‘bullshit,'” said Nehmad in what appeared to be a dig at Likud Minister without Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi, who last dismissed as bullshit claims that some Israelis don’t have enough money for food amid the economic crisis. Hanegbi later apologized for the comments.
Facing public and economic pressure, the government eased restrictions in late May. Some restrictions have been gradually reimposed this month, as the number of new COVID-19 cases has reached new highs of over 1,000 a day. Israel’s virus death toll was 354 as of Saturday.
While salaried workers sent on furlough received unemployment benefits, the self-employed said that most had been waiting months for promised government aid to reach them.
“There is a very grave crisis of confidence between us and the government,” Shai Berman, one of the protest organizers, told Israeli public radio earlier Saturday.
                                                                                 Khalid Bhatti 

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