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Israel delays Netanyahu trial amid coronavirus lockdown

Israel delays Netanyahu trial amid coronavirus lockdown
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Israel has moved to delay the next hearing for Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE’s corruption trial due to increased restrictions in the country amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Jerusalem District Court opted to postpone the hearing, originally scheduled for Wednesday, for an unspecified amount of time following a stricter lockdown of the country that began on Friday, according to The Associated Press.

Netanyahu has been accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three corruption cases. He has denied guilt of any of his charges and has blamed the media and law enforcement for making him the "victim of a witch hunt," the AP reported.

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Protesters in recent weeks have called on the prime minister to resign over his handling of COVID-19 as well as the charges, according to the outlet.

Netanyahu recently announced the third lockdown of the country on Tuesday, heavily restricting gatherings and closing schools and businesses, as the virus continues to spread.

“The hospitals are warning us that we are entering the most dangerous wave since the outbreak of the pandemic. The Health Ministry and the experts are warning us that we are in an emergency situation and that if we do not act immediately we will lose many hundreds of Israelis  and even more  who will die,” he said at the time.

The country has also rolled out intense vaccination campaigns, effectively inoculating almost 20 percent of the population with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Netanyahu said that the country has obtained enough vaccine doses to be able to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of March, according to AP. 

Israel has reported more than 455,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and almost 3,500 people have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.