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By TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu railed on Sunday at swelling protests against his rule, saying they are egged on by a biased media that distorts facts and cheers on the demonstrators.

Netanyahu has faced a wave of protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the long-serving, indicted leader to resign and panning his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu has painted the protests as dens of “anarchists” and “leftists" out to topple “a strong right-wing leader.”

The protests have largely been peaceful. In some cases they have ended with clashes between demonstrators and police. In others, small gangs of Netanyahu supporters and individuals affiliated with far-right groups have assaulted demonstrators.

In a six-minute rant at a meeting of his Cabinet, Netanyahu slammed the media for “inflaming” the protests and for misrepresenting incidents of violence against the protesters.

“There has never been such a distorted mobilization — I wanted to say Soviet but it has already reached North Korean terms — of the media in favor of the protests,” he said.

Netanyahu said the media ignored “wild and unfettered incitement, including daily calls — including the day before yesterday — to murder the prime minister and his family.”

He said the protests were breeding grounds for the virus that were being allowed to take place with no limits, shutting down streets and neighborhoods. He said right-wing protests have not been given such free rein.

He condemned violence “from all sides” at the start of his remarks before tearing into the media he has long viewed as hostile toward him.

Also at the Cabinet meeting, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is the country's “alternate” prime minister under a power-sharing deal, said the protests must be allowed to take place with protesters shielded from violence.

“The right to protest is the lifeblood of democracy and violence is the erosion of the foundation of democracy,” he said.

Netanyahu's tirade came as his son Yair Netanyahu was summoned to a Jerusalem court after tweeting the names, addresses and phone numbers of prominent protesters, calling his followers to demonstrate outside their homes “day and night.” The court granted the 28-year-old Netanyahu an exemption from appearing in court. Protesters said they received threatening calls after the tweet.

Throughout the summer, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets, calling for Netanyahu to resign, protesting his handling of the country’s coronavirus crisis and saying he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption charges. Though Netanyahu has tried to play down the protests, the twice-a-week gatherings show no signs of slowing and Saturday night's Jerusalem gathering drew more than 10,000 people.

The rallies against Netanyahu are the largest Israel has seen since 2011 protests over the country’s high cost of living.

After moving quickly to contain the virus last spring, many believe Israel reopened its economy too quickly, leading to a surge in cases. The country is now coping with record levels of coronavirus, while unemployment has surged to over 20%.

Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals involving wealthy associates and media moguls. He denies wrongdoing.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News Source: usnews.com

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Georgia school lifts suspension of teen who posted photo of crowded hall

(Credit: Hannah Watters)

A photo showcasing an overcrowded school hallway went viral as debates continue on whether or not classrooms should be open amid the pandemic. The teenager who uploaded the image was initially suspended but the decision has now been reversed.

READ MORE: Georgia students threatened with suspension for exposing unsafe COVID-19 practices

The Washington Post reports the suburban Atlanta school has issued an apology for any unwelcome attention the teen was given after the photo spread. Her mother Lynne Watters tells The Post North Paulding High School had ended her daughter’s suspension.

(Credit: social media)

“The principal just said that they were very sorry for any negative attention that this has brought upon her, and that in the future they would like for her to come to the administration with any safety concerns she has,” Watters told the outlet via text message.

“[The principal] confirmed that she will have no disciplinary action on her record and she can return to school on Monday.”

The 15-year-old student, Hannah Watters, was handed a five-day suspension citing a violation of the school’s code of conduct by using social media during the school-day and recording video without permission. According to the Washington Post, she and a peer were both suspended. However, it is unclear whether the other student also had their punishment reversed.

Using her social media platforms, she uploaded photos and videos of a fully crowded facility and minimal masks.

This is what it looks like even with split dismissal. pic.twitter.com/erCA2lhOUb

— hannah (@ihateiceman) August 4, 2020

READ MORE: Over 260 Georgia school employees under quarantine 1 day after returning to classroom

Principal Gabe Carmona issued an announcement to his school.

“Anything that’s going on social media that’s negative or alike without permission, photography, that’s video or anything, there will be consequences,” the administrator said over an intercom.

Fred Smith Jr., an associate professor of law at Emory University, informed Washington Post that the girl’s suspension held no weight due to her being off-campus when the media was uploaded.

“From a rights perspective, the question I would have is whether or not the school has exercised similar discipline for other students who have posted anything during the school day, especially instances of people posting favorable things,” he said to the Post.

theGrio previously reported students and faculty both fear the consequences of the non-adherence of social distancing guidelines. A student shared,  “There’s a lot of people in the hallways, and you can’t do nothing about it, so it’s scary.”

Amy Westmoreland, a nurse at the school, quit and shared her resignation letter with Buzzfeed.

“Masks are not a ‘personal choice’ during a pandemic. I cannot return knowing I am not supportive of your decision to open so quickly and not at least mandate masks,” she wrote.

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