Israel has passed a law banning mass protests during the country’s lockdown due to the Coronavirus, in a move government opponents claimed is using the health crisis to quell demanding demonstrations Benjamin Netanyahu To resign as prime minister.

The controversial legislation was passed at 4.30am local time (1.30am GMT) on Wednesday after an overnight session of the country’s parliament, the Knesset. It allows the government to prevent people from traveling more than a kilometer from their homes to demonstrate and bans outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people.

Critics say it, in fact, criminalizes weekly gatherings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where thousands have done so They expressed their anger About Netanyahu’s handling of the epidemic as well as accusations of corruption, which he denies.

Several hundred gathered outside the Knesset on Tuesday to denounce the new laws.

Yaniv Segal, the actor who has been unemployed for several months, said: “I think we can see that it is not aimed at stopping the epidemic or the Coronavirus, but rather political restrictions in order to stop and kill the demonstrations against Netanyahu.

This is an anti-democratic law. Only to stop the resistance against the corrupt prime minister accused of many crimes. “

Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party had previously demanded that the ban on mass protests remain in effect even after the lockdown was lifted, but lawmakers rejected the proposal. The new law can only be used during lockdown.

After the law was passed, opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted: “What’s the next step? Prevent the leader of the opposition from addressing Parliament?”

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Israel has recorded some of the highest per capita daily coronavirus infection rates in the world, and a military authority He said on Tuesday The per capita deaths in the country exceeded the United States.

While the spring lockdown has brought infection rates down to very low levels, officials say the country has reopened very quickly and with few restrictions.

We were not careful. “We were not careful how we got out of the recent lockdown, I think we are not doing enough to reduce infection and morbidity,” Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy told public radio.

a Three weeks insurance This month’s imposition has forced all non-essential businesses to shut down and the country largely closes.

Protest leaders have questioned the science behind the new rules, arguing that outdoor gatherings do not pose a significant risk of infection, especially when compared to indoor religious gatherings, which have been identified as hotspots.

Netanyahu’s critics accuse the prime minister, whose government is backed by powerful ultra-Orthodox politicians, of not doing enough to curb religious gatherings. This month, Netanyahu dropped a plan for local closures, which would severely affect religious communities, after pressure from ultra-Orthodox mayors.

I am not saying that I have anything against religious people. “I don’t,” said Liri Burak Shavit, 44, a psychologist at Tuesday’s protest. But we see that most of the aura is found in religious cities.

The religious did not want to move forward. They said, “Baby, we’re not going to vote for you next time if you do,” she said. “Then, a minute later, it was the whole country that had to close its doors. People are angry, people are angry.”

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In response, many deeply religious Israelis believe they are being unfairly targeted and point to the fact that ultra-Orthodox communities often live in poor, crowded areas where infection can spread quickly.

Israel recorded more than 234,000 injuries and 1,516 deaths, out of a population of 9 million. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday ruled out lifting the measures entirely after three weeks as originally planned.

He told the Kan public broadcaster: “There is no way that in 10 days we will lift all restrictions and say it is over, everything is fine. The opening of the economy and our life will be gradual and slow.”