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Israel: 16 detained for breaking into TV studios during protest against finance minister

Police detain 16 demonstrators breaking into the television studios in Neve Elan during a protest against Finance Minister Israel Katz.

Police say the 16 are suspected of disturbing public order.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the studio to protest against Katz as he arrived for an interview with Channel 12 news.

The demonstration was made up of social workers, who earlier this week announced a general strike after talks with the government failed to produce a change in their working conditions.

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Police said Saturday hundreds of officers were deploying in Tel Aviv for the evening’s demonstration against the government’s economic policies amid the coronavirus crisis.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to attend the rally. Organizers have said it will be “apolitical,” with no party politicians scheduled to address the crowd.

Police and organizers said they expected participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing measures.

“We are aware of the protesters’ desire to make their cries and their pain heard, and therefore, in order to allow the right to protest, we call on participants to strictly observe social distancing and wear masks,” police said.

A number of streets around Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square were closing from 5 p.m.

People of varied economic backgrounds and sectors are expected at the demonstration, including owners of hard-hit small businesses, freelancers and independent workers, members of the entertainment industry and of the restaurant and hospitality sector, as well as university students.

Channel 12 news reported Saturday that the committee representing workers in the cultural and events industries had changed its position and decided to join the protest, having initially said it would not.

Unemployment in Israel is at some 21 percent — or 850,000 people — and is rising, as restrictions imposed amid record daily coronavirus infections further batter the economy. Unemployment at the height of the pandemic reached over 25 percent, with over a million Israelis out of work.

As Israel contends with the alarming surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a tide of criticism over the government’s handling of the economic fallout of the pandemic, with polls indicating growing disapproval of his stewardship of the economy.

There has been widespread anger from various sectors of the economy whose members say the government is not doing enough to help them weather the crisis, accompanied by outrage over the alleged misdirection of financial aid and the bureaucratic complexities of obtaining assistance.

Source: TOI