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Israeli Protesters Press on Against Netanyahu

Israeli protesters chant slogans and block a road during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem during the third nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Jan. 2, 2021.

Thousands of Israelis protested again Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that the long-serving leader resign over corruption charges against him and alleged mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Holding signs reading "Go" and "Everyone is equal before the law," the demonstrators crowded a Jerusalem square near Netanyahu's official residence, where they have gathered for months to call for his resignation.

Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases involving billionaire associates and media moguls. He denies wrongdoing.

But the protesters say Netanyahu cannot properly lead the country while under indictment for corruption. Evidentiary hearings in his trial are set to begin in the coming weeks.

Israel is set to hold its fourth national election in two years in March, what will likely be another referendum against 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 partial lockdown amid surging infection rates.

Netanyahu and his allies have used Israel's widespread vaccination drive, in which more than a tenth of its population has been immunized, to try to undercut the protesters and their cause. They say Netanyahu is working to end Israel's coronavirus outbreak while they just hold demonstrations.