Israeli police arrest saboteurs amid protests against premier

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Israeli protesters took the streets on Saturday in demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli police said they arrested several people who attacked protesters with tear gas during demonstrations in major cities on Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Protests against the premier have taken place every Saturday since July, including outside his official residence in Jerusalem, where Israeli media said Saturday that several thousand people had gathered.

Netanyahu faces corruption charges and widespread criticism of his government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The police said in a statement that they had arrested "suspects" in several locations, who they accused of firing tear gas at protesters.

Saturday's demonstration in Jerusalem was reportedly buoyed by a planned easing from Sunday of a coronavirus lockdown, which had restricted people from moving more than a kilometre from their homes.

The lockdown -- the country's second since the pandemic began -- was implemented in September as the coronavirus infection rate resurged.

People waved the national flag and wore masks bearing the words "Crime Minister".

Later in the evening, clashes broke out with demonstrators marching outside an authorised zone, disrupting traffic and attacking law enforcers, police said in a statement, adding that three people were arrested. 

Several thousand people also gathered in the city of Tel Aviv, many of them families, an AFP photographer said.