Coronavirus: Israel hits 100,000 COVID-19 cases amid criticism of gov’t response

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz wears a protective mask as he attends a weekly cabinet meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, July 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Israel officially reached a tally of more than 100,000 coronavirus cases on Friday as the government struggled to contain a resurgence in infection rates.

The latest daily tally showed 1,496 new cases, bringing the total number to 100,716, the health ministry said. Israel has reported 809 deaths among its 9 million population.

In May, Israel lifted a nationwide lockdown that had flattened an infection curve, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials celebrated as a success.

Daily cases that numbered in the hundreds dropped to low double digits.

But a second surge of cases and ensuing restrictions have kept many Israelis out of work. Some restrictions have since been lifted to revive business activity, but unemployment still hovers at 21.5 percent.

Netanyahu’s government has come under fire by Israelis who have taken to the streets in near-daily demonstrations to demand better economic aid.

The protests have also focused on corruption allegations against Netanyahu, which the right-wing premier denies.

An August 5 poll from the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 25 percent of Israelis approve of Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic, while some 58 percent identify with the protests against the government’s economic policies.

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Last Update: Friday, 21 August 2020 KSA 19:03 - GMT 16:03
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