Thousands Protest in Israeli Capital Tel Aviv Over Handling of Economy During Coronavirus Crisis

The demonstration was organized by small businesses, self-employed workers and performing artists' groups

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv in order to protest against the economic hardship that they say is the result of the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country by the government.

Rabin Square, one of the largest public city square in the capital city, saw masses of youngsters sporting masks. However, social distancing norms were not observed by the demonstrators, who said that the compensation payments from the government have been slow to arrive.

Self-employed People Not Receiving Payments

The event was organized by small businesses, self-employed workers and performing artists' groups, the BBC reported. Many are experiencing economic hardship and have been angered by coronavirus measures that have taken their livelihoods away. They say the money they are due from government support schemes has not been paid.

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While workers on salaries received unemployment benefits via a furlough scheme, the self-employed say most of them have been waiting months for promised government aid. "I have 40 workers with no income, no money," Michal Gaist-Casif, vice-president of a sound and lighting company, told the Reuters news agency.

Sharp Rise In Unemployment

"We need the government to pump in money until we're back to normal. We haven't been working since mid-March through April, May, June and July, and August is looking to be a catastrophe." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met activists on Friday to discuss their frustrations. "We will meet our commitments including hastening the immediate payments that we want to give you," his office quoted him as telling them.

Israel imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March but started lifting restrictions in late May. Unemployment has risen to 21 percent. The country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases with nearly 1,500 new cases reported on Friday. A total of 354 people have died from Covid-19 in Israel, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

(With inputs from agencies)